Write.

40 video/audio lessons that take you step-by-step from idea to finished novel, taught by an award-winning, best-selling novelist and nationally acclaimed writing teacher. Easy, understandable, foundation elements essential for every genre. Learn Skills, Secrets and most of all... Story.

Edit.

A great book isn't written. . .it's rewritten. Learn how to analyze and fix your novel’s problems with this unique “self-editing” system. . .then arm yourself with over 40 Advanced Fiction Classes and rewrite your story into publication.

Publish.

You’ve worked too hard to quit now. Your story is nearly ready, but now it’s time to sell your novel. Learn the steps to creating a powerful proposal, secrets to pitching, the key elements to your marketing plan, a social media primer and how to create rabid reader fans. It’s time to ignite your career.
Rachel Hauck

The Next Generation of “Critique” Partnerships.

I’m starting a campaign. Time for a “second wave” critique partnership model.

“Rachel, what do you mean? I love my critique partners.”

I know! Keeping loving them. Love them well! There’s nothing like a solid critique/writing partner.

The person who faithfully answers frantic phone calls or emails. “Help! I have no idea what I’m doing.”

So here’s what I mean by “second wave” critique partner: adding craft as the key component of your partnership.

It’s a marriage of brainstorming, crafting and critiquing.

What’s the benefit? Having a clearer goal for your scenes and chapters before you write them.

For the most part, a critique partner reads what you’ve already written. A craft partner helps you before you write. And yes, while you write.

My craft partner, Susan Warren, often calls me scene by scene. “This is what I just wrote, now help me decide where I’m going next.”

Because we speak the same craft and story structure language, and because we’ve crafted our stories together from the beginning, we know the journey our characters are meant to take.

Susie’s saved me on more than one occasion.

“I think I need a terrorist attack in my prince book.”

“No! You cant have a terrorist attack in your prince book.”

She was right and saved me valuable writing time. Because we speak the same craft language, she asked, “What are you hoping to accomplish with a terrorist attack?”

When I told her I needed to raise the stakes for my prince, she helped me figure out a new stake based on what I’d already written. The conversation was invaluable.

A craft partnership enables you to have one or two, maybe three, people as familiar with your story as you.

When you’re stuck or foggy-headed because that ole deadline is approaching, or because you’re still learning the ins and outs of novel writing, a craft partner(s) reminds you of what your story is about and where you wanted to go.

The beauty is this method works well for plotters and pantsers!

A craft partner looks at over all structure and character development, and helps develop what Stanley Williams calls the story “spine.”

What’s this story about?

What does the protagonist want?

What is the noble quest or the story journey?

What will the protagonist do in the end he/she can’t do in the beginning?

What’s the inciting incident?

What happens in the middle of the book?

What’s the moment of truth for this protagonist?

What’s their identity verses essence?

What’s a possible black moment?

What is the possible epiphany?

See where I’m going?

A craft partner as like an architect, creating a blueprint before the work begins.

It’s a skeletal outline of where you want to go, your heart and goal for the story.

However, there’s still plenty of beauty in the story to be discovered along the way.

Here’s some suggestions on a craft partnership works:

  1. Join up with one or two writers you get a long with well. You don’t have to be in the same genre. You don’t have to be in the same publishing place. Indie authors can pair with traditionally published authors. Just find that kindred spirit.
  2. Work from the same play book. Pick a craft philosophy and study it. Use it’s terminology as a foundation for hammering out your stories. Develop your own terminology if you want but know the basics of how to structure a book.
  3. When one of you starts a book, use those craft tools to help develop the story. Get the building blocks into place before you start writing. Know where the story is going. This works well for plotters and pantsers.
  4. When you get stuck in the thick-of-the-middle, you can call on your craft partner to help keep you on track. Even remind you of story elements you’ve forgotten. Or keep you from veering too far off course.
  5. If you want to change your story, a craft partner can help navigate those changes. I’ve had to convince my writing partner the change was necessary. As a result, I further understood the story myself.

So take the challenge. Join the next wave of critiquing and start crafting!

 

 

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Connilynn Cossette

Weekly Spark: Getting Into the Flow

Have you ever gotten lost in your writing? So wrapped up in the words that time flew by without notice? Most of us creative-types have probably experienced this at one time or another, when everything around us dissolves and we are completely immersed in our make believe worlds.

I am an extreme right brain personality – much to the consternation of my poor left-brained husband. I am a writer, a singer, a musician, an artist, and a poet but I will dive into pretty much any other creative activity that tickles my fancy. So yes, my house is usually a travesty, my schedule is flexible (as is my bedtime) and I adore getting wrapped up in my writer-world and mucking around in my character’s lives.

But there are times when the words don’t flow and no matter how much I push and prod I cannot unblock the stream. During one particularly frustrating session, I gave up and closed the computer.

Instead, I focused on a watercolor painting that I had sketched out a few days before. Putting brush to paper became therapy for my frustrated mind. I was able to concentrate not on words, but on my visual creativity and the sheer pleasure of creating something beautiful. And then, while I was still in that flow state, I opened my laptop and the words that had been so tightly knotted before untangled themselves and spilled onto the page with ease.

I began to wonder if one artistic activity might stimulate another. So lately, I have been trying to begin my writing sessions not with writing, but in some other artistic activity that relieves the pressure and is simply a creative pastime without a demand for a finished product. The results have been amazing, I feel sometimes as though I have simply transferred the brush to my manuscript and continued painting with words.

I don’t know the science of why this works for me, I would guess it’s similar to the practice of drawing with the “right brain” that I learned in art classes years ago; which is a way of allowing your brain to concentrate on drawing what it actually sees, instead of what it assumes to see, and thereby encourages a flow state.

This technique has been especially helpful to me when I have been engaged in left-brained activities: teaching, research, budgeting, or monotonous household chores.

And honestly, it does not take much to stimulate my creativity—a few minutes perhaps, just enough to slip me into “right brain mode”. I just have to be careful not to get too wrapped up in the painting and neglect the writing! And it isn’t always painting; sometimes I doodle, play the piano, sing, or just read beautiful poetry that inspires me with lofty language and imagery.

What about you? Is there another artistic activity that inspires you to write? Or a hobby that might be helpful to relieve the pressure of deadlines or word counts and instead encourage creative flow?

~*~

Connilyn Cossette lives near Dallas, Texas with her husband, two precious kids, and a cross-eyed cat. She spends her days homeschooling and teaching music and writes stories long into the night. She has a passion for drawing readers into a deep, personal encounter with the rich, ancient word of the Bible through fiction. Connilyn was the 2013 My Book Therapy Frasier Award Winner, as well as a 2013 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Semi-Finalist. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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Featured Fiction: Vickie McDonough

Today, we’re celebrating one of the authors who helped us make the Frasier Contest possible! Vickie McDonough‘s recent release is Rancher Under Fire, and is Romantic Suspense.

Q: Vickie, can you tell us a little bit about your next book?

Jackson Durant would go to any lengths to protect his young daughter and his ranch. He knows the puzzling incidents on his homestead are no accidents. Someone is after him…but who? And why? Reporter Mariah Reyes is determined to find out. She never expected her pursuit of a story on the once high profile pro-football-quarterback-turned-reclusive-rancher would endanger her life—nor that she’d fall for the cowboy. But when Jackson’s daughter is kidnapped, she’ll do anything to help save the little girl—even if it means becoming a target herself.

Q: What was the most emotional scene for you to write in your novel?

I can remember early on in my writing that I was working on a pivotal dark moment scene that made me cry. I felt so stupid sitting there typing and swiping my eyes. I worked in my bedroom on a tiny desk and kept peering over my shoulder to see if my husband or boys were there, watching me, which of course they weren’t. The lesson learned is that if a scene moves me, the author, so much, it surely will move readers. Don’t be afraid to be mean to your characters and let them face difficult obstacles and bad things. Let them struggle. Readers love reading those hard scenes—they love the emotion of the scene—even if it makes them cry.

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Vickie McDonough 3 smallBestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams in her fictional stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is the award-winning author of thirty-four published books and novellas. Her books include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, and End of the Trail, which was the OWFI 2013 Best Fiction Novel winner. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July 2013. Her latest book, Rancher Under Fire, is a contemporary suspense.

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