More than just a synopsis

Last Monday, Karen Harbaugh taught us how to break down our book into five key points. This is useful if you are writing a synopsis, but it can also help us see the problems with our work in progress.

She provided a tip sheet for her index card method and I have attached it here. She also promised to provide a template for query letters. Both forms are worth using.

index card synopsis

Agent-editor letter

I’d like to share Jim Middleton’s insight on Karen’s program. I think he nailed it.

“I learned a lot tonight.

  • Why the 3 act structure of storytelling is important (again). To remember and use the 3 act structure (again).
  • What people in the industry consider the salient points of a story. And why you should too. Also again.
  • How to boil things down for yourself to make sure you are on point, and cover and move things along in a way familiar to readers, and make a complete compelling story. Also again.
  • And, what is important and how to get across the information in a presentation to writers.
  • I seem to forget the first three points and need reminding.

The best presentation that we have had in quite a while. The way she presented it made it valuable for a lot more than just writing a synopsis, although she did a good job of that as well.”


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nanowrimo is almost here!

The novels are coming! The novels are coming! For some, November means turkey, but for writers, it means 50,000 words. As you can tell, I’m very excited about this annual event.

I hope everyone is participating in Nanowrimo. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to be creative without any rules. Seriously, there is only one rule – write 50,000 words in November. What you write is up to you. I don’t even know what I’m going to write, but I’m still excited. I know the story will come once I start typing on November 1st.

If you want to know more about Nanowrimo, check out the official website at Amy Flugel is our ML (the gal in charge) and would love to answer any questions you have. Talk to her at critique, contact her on the LCWG Facebook group, or leave a comment on the Lewis County Nanowrimo forums. She wants all of us to win.

There are write-ins throughout the month. A write-in is a fun event where writers gather, rack up the words, try to win word wars, and earn cool prizes. I encourage everyone to go. There is a calendar on the forum, and I posted some of the dates below. Amy is working on scheduling more.

  • Event: Nanowrimo Kick-off Write-In
  • Date: Thursday, November 1
  • Time: 1 p.m. t0 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Chehalis Library
  • Details: Come write, pick up freebies, and get a strong start on the month


  • Event: Centralia Library Write-In
  • Date: All Saturdays in November
  • Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Location: Centralia Library


  • Event: Chehalis Library Write-In
  • Date: All Saturday in November
  • Time: 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m
  • Location: Chehalis Library


  • Event: “So you Wrote a Manuscript, Now What?” presented by Kyle Pratt
  • Date: November 3
  • Time: 2 p.m.
  • Details: Are you wondering what you are going to do with your 50,000 words in December? Come to this program and learn about the next step


  • Event: Write-In at The Station
  • Date – All Mondays in November
  • Time: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m
  • Location:  The Station Coffee Bar and Bistro, 120 S Tower Ave, Centralia, WA 98531
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An new year with new ideas

Last Friday, a group of us gathered around our conference table at The Station and brainstormed topics for future Guild meeting presentations. We had an excellent turnout, and good ideas were tossed around.

The board was re-elected with no changes. Your 2018-2019 board is as follows:

  • President – Pat Thompson
  • Vice President – Kyle Pratt
  • Treasurer/Note-taker/Social Media Administrator – Jennifer Vandenberg
  • Event Manager – Amy Flugel
  • Email Administrator – Larry Roth

The Southwest Washington Writers Conference was a big success. Pat reported that we will be giving $2,000 in scholarships to students at Centralia Community College.

Jennifer is looking for anyone who wants to contribute a blog post for the guild website. If you have something you want to write about, get in touch with her.

Amy is looking for writers to sign up for Nanowrimo. There will be lots of write-ins this November with chances to win prizes. See her for details.

We ended the meeting by listing presentations we’d like to see. The following ideas were proposed:

  • query letters
  • metaphors
  • show don’t tell
  • developing a writing habit
  • writing dialogue
  • descriptions
  • taking the meeting to a public space
  • book covers
  • POV
  • plot
  • how to make your first million
  • marketing
  • finishing  first drafts
  • the second draft
  • when you know you’re finished
  • pantser vs. outliner
  • essays and non-fiction.

If you have any other ideas, bring them to any board member. If you know of someone who could give a program to the group, let us know. We need several presenters over the next year to make the meetings as helpful as possible.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using belief to unblock your creativity

Larry Roth gave an inspiring presentation last night at the monthly meeting. His talks are always humorous and uplifting, and they often make us think. This time he talked about what is stopping us from becoming the best writers we can be – what blocks us.

We often have excuses for not writing, or not publishing, or not marketing our work. These excuses sound valid to us, but Larry explained how they are flimsy and emerge from fear. Excuses are a form of resistance.

He talked a lot about morals and beliefs. Are we trying to preach our morals and values when we write a character? If we want to convince someone of something, the best way is for the character to change. This is difficult because we’d have to write a character that in the beginning has different values from ours so they can evolve to have the values we want them too. If we have never changed our values, (or walked a mile in someone else’s shoes) how can we write authentic, believable characters and not just caricatures? Answering these questions can only make us better writers.

If you are blocked as a writer, is it possible that your beliefs are holding you back? Do you believe you can never write a book? Or like me, do you think you are horrible at marketing? These are opinions, and they can be changed. Thanks to Larry’s talk, I am going to work on those beliefs that are holding me back. Perhaps I will blow them up.

Larry suggested a couple of books that could help writers become unblocked.

  • Writer’s Block Unblocked by Mark David Gerson
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

He also quoted a lot of great authors, but I will end with the quote he ended his presentation with last night.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Night of Helpful Indie Advice

At our March Monthly Meeting, Ryan Williams, a librarian and indie-published author of twenty books spoke to us about how he got started in the self-publishing world and what he has learned along the way. He mentioned several websites and resources that could be useful to any author hoping to sell more books. I have listed them below along with their links.

We hope to see you at our Friday critiques, and at our next monthly meeting on April 20th, when Larry Roth will be our speaker.

Ryan’s List of Helpful Resources

IngramSpark –  another place to publish your book

Draft2Digital – a company that will help format, publish, and distribute your book

Overdrive – Get your ebooks in libraries where more people can discover you

Thrive Themes – Conversion focused WordPress Themes and plugins

ConvertKit – Email Marketing for creative people

BookFunnel – an easy way to do giveaways

BundleRabbit – get more exposure by bundling your book with other authors

Podcasts (He mentioned these two, but there are hundreds more) – Art of Paid Traffic and Problogger



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Exploring the Character’s Journey

Come to The Station on February 16 and hear Jim Middleton’s talk on the character’s journey. I’m looking forward to his program.

Want to Be the Luckiest Writer There is?

(some say you have to work at it.)

(hmmmm, maybe)

Do you think a good myth or legend is Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy?

Is the writing going well but you want something spectacular? Do you know a hero and want to write about them? How about a mentor or a trickster?

Do you hate the world and want to immediately experience the Apocalypse? Of course, while you’re at it, making the story you’re writing to bring the world to an end more appealing by causing people’s imaginations to catch fire, not just the neighborhood, would be good.

Fortunately, you ain’t the first one. For thousands of years, people have been writing and telling stories around the campfire, in bars, and while tucking the kids in at night. Heck, some of those thousand-year-old tales are still being told.

Do you want those yarns you are spinning to ring true, to grab people by the monster under the bed?

Come hear the tale of how to tap into characters that emerge from everything you have been told and experienced all your life and that of your ancestors. Learn how to make sure your character’s journeys touch all the bases needed to make them full and exciting and how to make stories that exist in every person’s life.

No one can write your story for you but there are truths about humanity that can help.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Discover a new book

At last week’s meeting, eleven members shared selections from their favorite books. The genres ranged from mystery to poetry to science fiction. It was fascinating that no one duplicated authors and each book was intriguing.

If you would like to read any of the books presented last Friday, I have created a list below. I for one am always happy to find a new author.

  • “Starman Jones” by Robert Heinlein – read by Kyle Pratt
  • “The Life and Times of Penguin”, from “Mortal Clay, Stone Heart” by Eugie Foster – read by Janice Clark
  • “The Burning Room” by Michael Connelly – read by Wayne Wallace
  • “My Papa’s Waltz” and “The Big Wind” from “Words for the Wind” by Theodore Roethke and “Poems of Humor and Protest” by Kenneth Patchen – read by Web Weber
  • “Loose Cannon” by Sydney Bell – read by Amy Flugel
  • “The Key-lock Man by Louis L’Amour” – read by Michael Roe
  • “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin – read by Donna Monroe
  • “Watchers” by Dean Koontz – read by Pat Thompson
  • “Danny Champion of the World” by Roald Dahl – read by Jennifer Vandenberg
  • “Report to Greco” by Nikos Kazantzakis – read by Jim Middleton
  • “The Gripping Hand” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle and “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***” by Mark Manson – read by Larry  Roth
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment