Founder of DIY MFA, Gabriela Pereira, Tells Us A Secret

Let me introduce Gabriela Pereira, the founder of DIY MFA. She’s funny. She’s sincere. She’s serious about her work and helping writers. So, I’ve interviewed her.

This is a different kind of interview where I put Gabriela in the hot seat. No boring questions…only ones that give you the inside scoop on the life of a creative entrepreneur.

Let’s start out with a bang.

If you were told you could only give a fiction writer ONE piece of advice, what spectacular wisdom would share?

Wow, you’re not holding back with these questions. Love it!

If I could only give one piece of advice or “spectacular wisdom” I’d say this: Don’t try to be spectacular. Or wise. In other words, don’t allow other people’s impressions or opinions to dictate what success means to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that each and every human on this planet has a story to share and the capacity to achieve their version of excellence on the page. The problem is that many writers let other people’s definition of success derail their creative process. They listen too much to criticism and give up before they have the chance to see any breakthroughs.

Writing is an act of faith. You have to believe that the verbal spillage you’re accumulating on the page today will become a coherent story tomorrow. You have to trust that this story that means the world to you will also eventually find a home in the publishing universe. You have to be a little bit delusional to succeed as a writer and if you buy into all that “common sense” advice from those non-writers in your life, you’ll never start.

So my advice is don’t try to be spectacular. Just be you and trust that it will be enough.

What is the most DIFFICULT feedback you’ve ever had to give to a writer?

Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to give difficult feedback. This has to do both with quality of the writers I’ve had the privilege of working with and also the type of feedback I give.

When it comes to caliber of writers, the word nerds in the DIY MFA community are a cut above. This has nothing to do with how “advanced” they are; in fact, we have many first-time writers in our signature programs. Instead, it’s all about the mindset they adopt toward receiving feedback. When writers approach critique with curiosity and a deep desire to improve their skills, it’s easy to give feedback, even if it means telling someone they may need to do a major overhaul.

The other reason that I rarely have to give difficult feedback is because of how I approach the critique process. I don’t consider myself an “editor” or a “coach.” I’m a diagnostician. My superpower as a writer and teacher is being able to look at a small sample of someone’s work and identify telltale signs of bigger problems. My job isn’t to criticize, it’s simply to notice patterns and bring those to the writer’s attention.

It’s very hard to be truly critical when you give feedback this way because it’s an objective approach. It’s not about passing judgment, but about helping writers see what they’re doing on the page and the effect it has on a reader. It’s up to the writer then to decide whether they want to “fix” it or not.

When you first started DIY MFA, was there a MISTAKE you made (perhaps one that is a funny story) that you’re willing to share with us?

Oh gosh, I made so many mistakes when I first started! One doozy was when I thought the way to build an email list was using a Google form. (I know, lunacy!) When I look back, I don’t think of this so much as a mistake but as a learning opportunity. Yes, at the time, it was devastating to rebuild my email list from scratch, which meant losing all my subscribers (all 12 of them!). It’s funny, nowadays when people unsubscribe from my newsletter, I take it as a badge of honor. I think: “Yesssss! 100 unsubscribes this month! I’m zeroing in on my superfans!”

There were some happy accidents, too, like that time I went to a writing conference when I was nine months pregnant to the day. I’m not kidding. My son was due to arrive the day after the conference ended. (He was actually a week late so it all worked out fine.) But the happy accident is that it was at that conference that I met my publisher and this connection eventually led to my book deal a few years later.

Can you imagine if I hadn’t gone to the conference? I could have so easily decided I was too tired or too pregnant or too whatever… and I would have missed out on a huge opportunity! Sometimes the smartest move you can make is doing something everyone else thinks is completely insane.

What is the BEST comment anyone has ever made about DIY MFA 101? By best, I mean one that warmed your heart and made you do the happy dance.

There are so many, but I think one of my favorite comments—and perhaps one of the ones I hear most often—is: “Before DIY MFA, I didn’t think I was a writer but now I do.”

I had one student in a workshop years ago who couldn’t write a sentence much less an entire story. This was back when I did some of my teaching at live, in-person workshops, and whenever we did in-class exercises, this writer would end up with a blank page. Slowly, he started dipping his toe into the writing. Eventually he was writing short stories and essays and even got published! This is my absolute favorite thing—when I can help someone go from muggle to word wizard.

My other favorite comment is when word nerds say that DIY MFA is more than a writing program, it’s a lifestyle. For many creative people, we can be our own worst enemies, so the biggest hurdles have nothing to do with the mechanics of writing. Instead, it’s all about mindset and attitude. This is why in our DIY MFA programs, I always focus first on the bigger mindset issues like building resilience or developing a writing habit. It’s a lot easier to master the craft when you’ve managed your mindset.

In fact, I have a free video series starting Monday April 22nd, 2019 that digs deep into some of the biggest mindset hurdles that writers face. This series is only available for a limited time so hop on over now while the series is available.

How will a writer BENEFIT from DIY MFA 101? So they too can do the happy dance.

The goal of DIY MFA 101 is to help writers get the “knowledge without the college” so they can simulate the graduate school experience without actually going back to school. That’s the fancy description, but really the strength of this program is that it grows with the writer.

You see, a central component to the DIY MFA philosophy is that there is always more to learn, more skills to master. Writers who join 101 aren’t just looking for some one-and-done solution to all their writing problems. They crave learning. They want expand their skills not because they want some external marker of success but because of an internal drive, a curiosity, a craving to expand their intellectual horizons.

DIY MFA 101 does not focus on “information transfer.” Yes, there is plenty of information in the program, but the focus isn’t on me transferring what I know from my brain to that of my students. Instead, my goal is to give writers a framework so they can continue their learning journey for the long haul. The course is structured so that writers can revisit the material again and again, and continue to learn and grow from it.

Let me share a concrete example. Many traditional MFA programs require students to take literature courses. In those courses, the professor often predetermines what books go on the syllabus or reading list. At DIY MFA, we don’t assign a specific reading list. Instead, we offer a framework so that writers can create their own syllabus.

The advantage of the DIY MFA philosophy is twofold. First, writers can focus on reading that is relevant to their goals and that serves their writing. They don’t have to waste time with reading that feels like an exercise in futility. The second benefit of this approach is that it empowers writers rather than simply spoon-feeding information.

I often tell people that DIY MFA 101 is not for the faint of heart. It takes a particular type of intrepid determination to embrace this program. Thankfully, most writers have this “fire in the belly” already, and when they join the course, they’ll feel like they’ve found their home.

At what stage in their WRITING JOURNEY should a writer take the course?

Don’t be fooled by the “101” in the course title, this course is not only for beginners. I developed this program so that it would grow with writers. This is why we don’t cut off access to the materials after the term is over. What you get from the course as a new writer will be very different from what you learn as your skills increase and you can come back and revisit the materials again and again.

This program works equally well for writers who are complete beginners and for those who are “in the trenches” working on drafting or revising a project. The difference lies in how these writers use the materials. New writers might want to focus their attention on the first few sections and build up a solid writing habit, whereas writers working on a specific project will get better results if they apply the techniques to their work-in-progress. The later lessons give an overview of platform and publishing for writers who are ready to start sending out finished work.

The only writers who might not be a fit for this course are those who are already published and are focusing more on the marketing and business side of writing. For those writers, we have a more advanced course Pixels to Platform which is due to reopen later this year or early next.

What is your biggest CHALLENGE in being the head instigator of DIY MFA?

My biggest challenge is that I have unrelenting standards. My perfectionism is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing, of course, is that I put a lot of care and attention in everything I create. This may be a big reason why so many writers are drawn to DIY MFA and why so many writers keep coming back to our programs year after year. The downside, of course, is that these super-high standards have made it very difficult for me to delegate tasks to other members of my team. Heck, just the idea of having a team at all was a challenge for me in the beginning.

But just like with writing, building a business is a learning process, and I’ve definitely “mellowed out” over the years. Having kids helped with that. It’s impossible to achieve perfection when you have an infant spitting up on your shirt or a toddler sneezing snot onto your manuscript. Now that my kids are school-aged and more independent, it feels almost miraculous to reclaim my work time, and I like to think that I’m a bit more relaxed now than I used to be about making everything perfect.

Tell us a SECRET…

Here’s a dirty little secret: I vehemently dislike reading literary fiction. (Blasphemy, I know!) You would think that as someone who studied literature in college and grad school, that literary fiction would be my jam, but it so isn’t. In fact, for the longest time, I thought the reason I disliked it was because I wasn’t smart enough to “get” it.

Over the years, I’ve realized that this response has nothing to do with the capacity of my brain cells and everything to do with personal taste. It took a long time, but I’ve finally given myself permission not to like literary fiction. What do I like to read? Pretty much anything genre and I love children’s books and YA.

Our flagship program, DIY MFA 101, has received rave reviews and has helped over 200 writers to:

  • Get their words on the page so they can finish a draft once and for all.
  • Master the craft, so they can write the best book possible.
  • Understand the publishing industry, so they can get their stories out into the world.

Writers who’ve completed this course have gone on to reach impressive goals, like: signing with literary agents, winning awards, or being published in anthologies or literary magazines.

Fictionary and DIY MFA

So why am I so thrilled to have Gabriela here? Well…since you asked, I’ve taken the entire DIY MFA 101 course, and Gabriela and I are kindred spirits when it comes to editing a novel.  It’s kind of like finding a new BFF.

DIY MFA gives you the theory that lays the groundwork for using Fictionary to edit your story. Take the course and apply the knowledge you learned in a practical way specific to your manuscript using Fictionary. Salt and pepper, Ketchup and mustard, moon and the stars, DIY MFA and Fictionary. You get the idea.

 

 

Fictionary is online software that simplifies story editing. Fictionary will help you evaluate your story on a scene-by-scene basis. You’ll be able to focus on problem areas in your manuscript and improve it quickly. Then your beta readers will be impressed!

Why not check out Fictionary’s free 14-day trial and tell better stories? We don’t ask for a credit card until you’re ready to pay, so there’s no risk.

Thanks for reading!

Kristina

P.S. I only promote people that I can stand behind 100%. I know that you’re in good hands with Gabriela which is why I’m a proud affiliate for her programs! I took the DIY MFA course before deciding to partner with DIY MFA.

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Mystery Mondays: Ending a Novel Series by Janet Elizabeth Lynn

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Janet Elizabeth Lynn back Mystery Mondays. She’s got some great advice and if you scroll down, you’ll get to read an expert for Game Town!  Happy reading.


Ending a Novel Series

The Episodic Series by

Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Mysteries, a hardboiled detective series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. Our new book, GAME TOWN, is set in Hollywood and exposes a scandal that rocks the toy industry in Los Angeles. GAME TOWN is the fifth and final book of the series.

Some people confuse “Story-arc series” with “Episodic Series”. Though they each tell a story and must have interesting plots, and characters, they differ.

A story-arc series tells one collective story in several books. So the reader needs to read the books in succession in order to enjoy the full plot.

Episodic series is when the main characters live through unconnected stories, plots and sub plots. In other words each book stands alone. The reader can pick up any book in the series and enjoy the story.

The Skylar Drake Mystery series is an episodic series following Skylar Drake as he investigates crime in 1950s Los Angeles. Though each book stands alone, there is a common thread that runs through the entire series. Who killed Sky’s beautiful wife, Claire, and his little girl, Ellie.

When, in this book, we had to face the finality of what really happened that killed both of them, we were brought  to tears.

  After five year of him searching and gathering evidence of the now cold case, he have answers.

I’m not going to give the plot away, but it made sense to tie up this loose end and give the reader answers to Sky’s five year struggle.

We became depressed and saddened, not because the novel series ended but because the crescendo has ended and Skylar Drake and his cohorts needed to move on. We had to be sure all the character had satisfying endings- not happy mind you,  but endings so everything worked out.

Will there be a spin off or a sequel? For now we have no plans for another book in this series. But this doesn’t mean it will never happen.

GAME TOWN is the fifth in the series and yes…we are still married!

Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn     http://www.janetlynnauthor.com

Website:  Will Zeilinger                  http://www.willzeilingerauthor.com


Game Town

Synopsis 

Skylar Drake is hired as a bodyguard for two young starlets. He delivers the actresses home after the Emmy Awards ceremony, but stumble onto the murder of Silver Brovor-Smith, the mother of one of their charges. He wonders why the FBI is on-scene for a simple murder.

Drake and his partner are now on the case as suspicion shifts between the victim’s husband and her three brothers. 

Drake and Dolan are misled while kidnapping and mysterious deaths take them into the world of Hollywood backroom deals. 

They must keep the high-profile family from becoming front page news.

 Drake meets the perfect woman to help him move on, but is she a suspect? 

The letters P-E-G-O seem to appear everywhere. He thinks they may be connected to the crimes.

Follow Skylar Drake to Hollywood parties where the forbidden is accepted and games played are for keeps. 


Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger

BW Janet Bill 01Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn write individually until they got together and created the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1956-57.  Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.

The next Skylar Drake Mystery, GAME TOWN, the fifth and final book in the series, will be available April 15, 2019 and yes…we are still married!


 

GAME TOWN

by

Janet Elizabeth Lynn

Will Zeilinger

 (Chapter One)

Two o’clock in the morning. I’d just left the Emmy Awards ceremony at the NBC Television Studio in Burbank. All of Hollywood and its finest had shown up tonight to honor the best of television for 1956. The winners and losers were either at a party celebrating or hiding somewhere licking their wounds. I’d just left the event driving south on Cahuenga toward Hancock Park. My partner, Casey Dolan was in the passenger seat. It was pouring rain when we left Burbank. It seemed to be lessening as we headed away from the valley.

We’d been hired by Epic Studios to escort a couple of their up and coming starlets to and from the event. In truth, we were their bodyguards. The motion picture and TV studios weren’t taking chances with their human investments. 

The two young ladies in the back seat were passed out cold. I suspected they’d had a little too much Champagne before and during the ceremony.

I drove through the Wilshire Boulevard entry gate and onto Fremont Place, one of the most exclusive and expensive neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Ahead we spotted a lot of activity on the street. Dolan sat up and stared at the mess ahead, “What the Hell?”

Several police cruisers and what looked like government cars were lined up in front of a house with their spotlights trained on it. As we got closer, I saw the address. 859 in brass letter, wattached to the beam above the front door – the address where I was to deliver the girls.

Dolan rolled down his window to get a better look. He pulled his head back inside and said, “You sure this is the right house?” 

I parked at the opposite corner. Dolan said, “I’ll stay here and keep watch on the girls.”

I sprinted up the wet sidewalk and ducked under the yellow police tape. A uniformed cop approached me and held up his hand like a traffic cop. “Sorry, sir. This is a police investigation. You’ll have to step back.”

I showed him my PI license and explained that I was a bodyguard for the two young ladies in my car and that I was to deliver them to this address.

He took a look at my credentials and shook his head, “Sorry sir…”

I heard a familiar voice.

 “Drake, over here!” I almost didn’t recognize FBI special agent Olivia Jahns. She looked like she’d just stepped off the red carpet, poured into a slinky black evening gown. She held up one side of her long gown and made her way over to me. 

“That’s all right officer.” She said, “I’ll take it from here.” He turned away while I followed Jahns into the mansion.

“Olivia…er, Agent Jahns. What’s this all about?”

She glanced back at me and said, “You’ll see. Just follow me.”

I stopped. “I meant the dress, the hair and…”

She too stopped and took a breath. “Come on Drake. You’re wearing a tuxedo. I can have fun too.” She continued to the front door. “Right now, we have a problem.”

Inside, the body of a woman in a pure white coat with a white fur collar was sprawled on the hardwood floor at the foot of a marble staircase. Her light blonde hair and fur coat were soaked with blood. The handle of a knife protruded from her waist. I bent down for a closer look. The blood in her hair was plastered to her face. Her mouth and hands were clenched. I detected a strong odor by the body. It wasn’t cherry, but it was sweet.

 “Who is…?”

“The victim’s name is Silver Brovor-Smith.” Jahns interrupted me as most FBI agents do. “She’s the mother of Holly Becker, one of the young ladies in your charge.” 

Brovor?…Brovor. Why did that name sound familiar? It dawned on me, “The Toy company Brovor?” I could visualize the logo – a big red circle with black and white letters.

“Yep.” Jahns nodded. “You got it.”

My mind raced. I remembered a lawsuit from years ago between family members after their father passed away. The papers had a field day with the scandal. I stood and asked Jahns, “You sure about Holly’s lineage?”

“Yup, no doubt, Brovor. Since you’re in charge of her, I’ll leave it up to you to break the news to the soon-to-be grieving daughter.”

We looked out the front door. The press had already gathered on the front lawn. Radio and Television remote trucks had set up their lights and equipment while the newspaper photographer’s flashbulbs blinded us. The reporters didn’t help the chaos as the street in front of the house was already jammed with the Coroner’s truck, loads of police cars and an ambulance. It seemed dark on the street. I looked up and saw that the street light was out. Strange that would happen on Fremont Place.

Jahns looked at me. “Why are you still here Drake?” 

I headed for the door. It was late, and my brain had stopped working hours ago.

The two starlets came running past me, “No!” Holly yelled when she saw her mother’s body on the floor.

Theresa, the other young lady, shouted, “Oh my God. Oh my God!” She struggled to join her friend Holly, but Dolan had his hands full, holding her back from the scene. 

“What are you doing here?” I yelled over the two young women’s screams. “You were supposed to keep them in the car.” 

“Hey!” Dolan said, “There are two of them and only one of me.” 

I took Holly by the shoulders and turned her away from the bloody scene. I hoped to say something comforting to her when she looked toward the stairway. 

“What did you do to her?” Holly shouted at an older man wearing a white tuxedo coming down the stairs. Holly broke away from me and ran toward him. She began kicking and punching him, screaming, “What did you do to her!”

Several officers pulled her away, but she continued kicking and flailing, “You killed her!” 

Farley’s Friday: Baby Gates and Guide Dogs

Farley here,

Our house is changing its look. When my humans go out, I get the run of the house. I sleep on the couch, I sleep in their bed, and sometimes I sleep by the front door pining from them to come home.

Jan is our guide dog puppy in training. But my humans don’t want her lose in the house when they’re not home. Sometimes humans are strange.

They brought home a baby gate, and Jan quickly figured out how to climb over by sticking her toes in the gaps for leverage, then pushing a back paw against the door frame, gaining traction and jumping out.

So my humans got smart – they thought. They put a bench with a high back in front of the gate.. I was lying in the next room listening for her — ’cause it’s my job to look after her– and within minutes I saw her head peek around the corner. She’s gotten over the back of the bench and was sitting on the seat wagging her tail. I’m thinking she’s smarter than my humans. We both laughed at our humans.
But the humans got even smarter. Here’s what they came up with…

 

Will Jan climb this one too?  Only time will tell.

Woof woof.

Day One: Welcoming Our Guide Dog In Training

Farley here.

I know it’s not Friday, but I’m excited to introduce you to Jan. She’s a golden retriever in the BC & Alberta Guide Dog Program. I’ll be training her for the next 14 to 18 months.  Kristina thinks she’s doing the training but it’s really me.

As you can see, I’m taking good care of her.

I miss Kinta, our last guide dog in puppy training. She’s  moved on to advanced training and is doing well.

Woof woof..

New Release: The Goddaughter Does Vegas by Melodie Campbell

Funny Girl, Melodie Campbell, has a new book out in the Goddaughter series. Do you need a belly laugh? Answer yes? Then The Goddaughter Does Vegas is for you!

The Goddaughter Does Vegas

Gina Gallo is a mob goddaughter who doesn’t want to be one. She’s left her loopy family behind to elope with Pete to Vegas. Except that eloping may be a mortal sin in an Italian family. Between that and some weird deliveries and suitors, Gina’s nerves are frayed. Vegas is full of great acts, but one impersonation is real: Gina has a crime-committing double whose activities are making Gina front-page news. Gina has to track down this fiendish fraud before the police catch up with her. And, of course, cousin Nico is along for the ride.

Another madcap adventure for the loveable Gallo cousins that proves the rule “Why should things go right when they can go wrong?” Buy Now: https://amzn.to/2sZ7YOL

 

About Melodie Campbell

2015 author photo correctedThe Toronto Sun called her Canada’s “Queen of Comedy.” Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich. Melodie Campbell has won the Derringer, the Arthur Ellis Award, and eight more awards for crime fiction. Last year, Melodie made the Top 50 Amazon Bestseller list, sandwiched between Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts. She is the past Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada. Her 13th book, The B-Team, launches this week. It’s in first person.

Creating a Strong Story by Rebecca Monterusso – Certified Story Grid Editor

I’m thrilled to host Rebecca Montrusso, a Story Grid certified developmental editor, as a guest. Rebecca is sharing her expertise on how you can become your own story editor.

Creating a Strong Story

(Before you call in an editor)

by Rebecca Monterusso

I am a developmental editor. Meaning, I help people learn to tell their stories better by focusing on the fundamentals (read: story craft and structure). I like to say that I help people write masterfully, read actively, and live intentionally because I believe they are all necessary to live as a creative person. I also teach people how to practice in the right ways to be the writer they’ve always wanted to be (see my latest post), but that’s beside the point in this case.

What’s most important is that I study how to write effectively, do so myself, and use those skills to help other people improve their work.

That said, it might be surprising when I tell you (beg you, perhaps) to become your own editor. And I mean before calling in someone like me to take a look at your work.

Wouldn’t it make sense for me to tell you I can fix any story no matter how rough? Shouldn’t I have you send me even the most cursory drafts so that I can earn a comfortable living? Perhaps, but that’s not how I run my business.

There are a number of reasons you should write and edit your own story before hiring an editor. 


First and foremost, I don’t want to take your money if I can’t help you make significant changes that will bring your workable draft closer to being finished.


Lying about how good or bad your novel is to make you feel better won’t make you a better writer and won’t allow me to do my job effectively. A draft that is so rough I can’t even begin to improve it (meaning, it lacks structure, consistency, movement, active characters, etc), isn’t something I feel good about taking on. I want to feel like I’ve made a difference in the work of the authors I help and I can’t do that if I can’t actually help. Save your money.

When you become your own editor, you learn, improve, and remember that knowledge for your future drafts.

I’m not saying you’re going to be able to write a perfect draft that will require no edits. But, your first drafts will (probably) require fewer and fewer edits the more you improve your craft. That’s because you’ll know where your novel is going and be more likely to get it there when you understand what your audience expects. Do the work now and you’ll be able to grow that much more when telling future stories.

Other writers self-edit themselves.

Not that I’m telling you to do something just because others do it. But, think of the most prolific authors, the most well-told stories. Chances are, those authors learned how to improve their own work before sending it to someone else. Compare that to the masses of people who write a novel in a month (or any designated amount of time) and send it off to an agent without even reading it through themselves. If you’re going to copy any sort of strategy, the one that gets authors published and out of the slush pile should be adopted.

Your next drafts will be better.

As you learn to critique your own work in an honest way (not too gentle or harsh), the future drafts of that story that you produce will become better and better. This is because of brain science and the fact that knowledge is cumulative. Taking time to study and you’ll gain more and more knowledge along that way that will enable you to challenge your initial ideas and build upon them to create unique stories.

You’ll better appreciate the books you read.

Learning how to write well and understanding the mechanics that make a story work will change the way you read. Reading stories and analyzing them will improve your writing, just as improving your understanding of the craft of writing will improve your understanding of the books you read.

All that aside, how do you improve your story before sending it to an editor?

Showing your work is a necessary step. Feedback is irreplaceable. That said, you could find an editor or coach who works with beginning writers (which might seem counter-intuitive, but there are people specifically interested in that). Or, use beta-readers or family members who read a lot and might be able to help. (Though I don’t recommend that route because they could do more harm than good, it is an option if you trust the people you send your work to.)


You could study every craft book you can get your hands on. The Story GridStory GeniusStory, Story Engineering, to name a few. Take the time to peruse websites like www.thecreativepenn.comwww.janefriedman.comwww.storygrid.com, etc. Listen to podcasts. Figure out and act on the habits of successful writers like Steven Pressfield, Stephen King, etc. Plenty of writers outline their learning methods in books for you to find. Or, you could attend events like Robert McKee’s Story Seminar or take Masterclasses by Margaret Atwood or Dan Brown.

Finally, you can use the tool at your fingertips and subscribe to Fictionary. Not only will you have access to the computational analysis, but you’ll get emails on craft to continue to teach you. Using this tool will enable you to take learning into your own hands. You’ll see your novel laid out in many different forms and learn what that means for what you’ve crafted. Then, you can act on that analysis and keep working to improve what you’ve learned. Though that doesn’t replace hiring an editor, it is a great first step to improve your first drafts immensely.

Rebecca Monterusso

Rebecca Monterusso is a Story Grid Certified Developmental Editor, which is a fancy way to say that she helps writers learn to tell their stories better by focusing on writing, reading, living, and practicing with intention.

She spends her time traveling the world, writing whatever takes her fancy, and deconstructing the many stories she reads on her blog to better understand the craft of writing. Ultimately, she believes that stories are the only way to change the world, which makes writers mighty powerful people.

Rebecca Monterusso Workbooks

If you’re looking for a method to get that book started and written well, Rebecca has a couple of workbooks that will help you.

Practice to Improve Your Writing workbook will help you learn by doing, by actually writing. It will help you practice in the right ways so that you improve, turn writing into a habit, and story stories you want to emulate. Use it to take actionable steps towards your goals.

Write A Story in 7 Days walks writers through the steps they need to take to come up with a fully-formed story that works. It helps them get words on the page and continue to improve their understanding of craft as they learn.

Ghost Writer: Another fabulous read!

As we continue on our journey through the wonderful mystery novels published by Imajin Books, the sale continues. Today, Alison Bruce is here to share a story that gives us insight into her and her characters…

Ghost Writer is on sale for $1.99.

Are all writers Stubborn?

By Alison Bruce

2013-Bruce-author-400My life isn’t so much an open book as a Columbo episode. 

Columbo, an American mystery series starring Peter Falk as the eponymous homicide detective, always started with the murder. The mystery wasn’t a whodunit; it was all about Columbo working it out, gathering the clues and getting a confession. Not that my life adventures required many confessions. But I’ve always been fascinated why things happen and why people do things…including myself. 

Once I decided to take a different route home from school. There was an apartment building at the end of my street.  That is, there was an entrance to the apartment building’s parking lot. I reasoned that the front of the building must be on Kingston Road, which was the road I walked along to get to my high school. If that was the case, I should be able to cut through the parking lot to get home.

This wasn’t a shortcut, by way. I had to go past the street that most directly led home. I was also wrong about the building. Another apartment building fronted Kingston Road. The one I knew backed onto it. The parking lots could have been connected, if someone hadn’t put an eight foot link fence in between.

A reasonable person would have backtracked. A more athletic person would have had no problem scaling the fence. I was neither athletic nor reasonable, but I was stubborn. I managed to climb the fence but just barely made it over. I left a swatch of denim and a chunk of my skin behind.

I do my best to make my protagonists different from each other. They have different family situations, different professions, different skill sets, different tastes (coffee excepted). However, I think all of them have the similar dumb episode in their past. Like me, they hate backing down.

GHOST WRITER

By Alison Bruce

Bruce-GhostWriter-400She has to deal with two kinds of spooks: spies and ghosts.

But which one is trying to kill her?

Jen Kirby has seen ghosts since she was a child, but she can’t talk to them or help them cross over. And, after a violent death in the family, she doesn’t want to see them anymore. 

In her role as ghostwriter, Jen joins a Canadian Arctic expedition to document and help solve a forty-year-old mystery involving an American submarine station lost during the Cold War. The trouble is, there are people—living and dead—who don’t want the story told, and they’ll do anything to stop her.

Now Jen is haunted by ghosts she can’t avoid or handle alone. That means confiding in the one man she doesn’t want to dismiss her as “crazy.” But can he help? Or is he part of the problem?

http://getbook.at/GhostWriterAB

Alison writes novels that combine mystery, well-researched backgrounds, a touch of romance and lots of coffee. She is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Website: www.alisonbruce.ca 

Twitter: @alisonebruce 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alisonbruce.books 

Pinterest: pinterest.com/alisonebruce  

Amazon Author Page: http://viewauthor.at/AlisonBruce