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.


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.


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.

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.


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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dream takes hard work quote

When Dream is a Four Letter Word

I am a huge proponent of dreams.

I’m not talking about the “while you’re sleeping” kind of dreams – although those are just fine. I’m talking about the “pursue them while you’re wide awake” kind of dreams.

I am living my dream – I have been for several years now. I’m not just writing stories – no, I’m a signed-on-the-bottom-line published author.

But here’s a little dash of writing reality: On this side of the contract, dream is a four-letter word. From where I’m sitting, dream = w-o-r-k.

Or, as I like to sum it up: Living the dream; doing the work.

I know all you published authors are nodding your heads in a “Don’t I know it” kind of way.

And you waiting to be published writers? You’re saying “Bring it on! I want to live the dream and do the work.”

You say that now … and yeah, I believe you. But when you take a dream and throw the work into it, well, it becomes something different. Sometimes you lose sight of the wonder of the dream. All you see is a four-letter word.

So what’s a writer to do when work overruns the dream?

Welcome it – Work is part of the publishing package. Rewrites. Deadlines. Sometimes it’s back-to-back deadlines where you say “Living the dream; doing the work” and figure out a way to juggle competing time demands.
Organize yourself – I have my own method for tackling my writing tasks. I write best earlier in the day – sometimes as early as 3 or 4 AM. If I only have a brief block of time, I work on smaller tasks, like blog posts. Another hint: Noise cancelling headphones – such a fun way to focus. (I only wish I had found these sooner.)
Refuel the dream – Yes, there’s work. But first there was the dream. It’s important not to forget your inspiration, your passion—your dream. So here’s the question: What helps you dream? Music? Good books? A long walk? Journaling? Talking with close friends? Take the time to do those things that keep your dream alive.
Keep accountable to someone – I have my safety net: a group of friends, both writers and non-writers, who know me best. They pray for me, encourage me, remind me I can do this, I must do this. They tell me to get off Facebook and get back to work.

With the fulfillment of the dream comes the work … but with the work, don’t lose the wonder of the dream.
How are you going to balance both?

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Weekly Spark: Ron’s Big Fat Marketing Secret

It’s okay to be a slacker. Honestly. I want you to take a deep breath. Relax. And close your Facebook, twitter, Google+, and Instagram apps. It’s okay. I promise that your book sales or blog rankings will not suffer and your children will not end up on freeway off ramps holding cardboard signs.

Because I’m going to give you a secret. Now, don’t just go spouting this to everyone. You can pay me back the next time we happen to meet inside a Starbucks.


Here’s the best kept marketing secret of the 21st century:

  1. Write the book.

The second best marketing secret is:

  1. Write the next book.

Blown away?

Yeah, so was I. We shall, henceforth, refer to those as the Writer’s Golden Rules (WGR).

Indie authors seem to understand this. It’s how some fairly obscure writers are pulling down a good living. Traditionally published authors are catching on as well, despite the long-past-the-expiration-date advice we’re all getting from the “experts.”

The golden age of social media marketing lasted about nineteen minutes. Move on.

Some of you are already suffering withdrawals. I can feel your fingers trembling over that Facebook icon with its mocking little red number 1 up in the corner. Oops…it just went to 2.

Be strong. You can do this.

Here’s the truth of You, Writer. You are extremely busy. All writers are. Indie superstar Russell Blake says he writes 12-14 hours a day. Every day. I asked him about exercise and he told me he writes while walking on a treadmill.

Still think you’re alone in your busy-ness?

I’ve never seen a twitter post from Russell, who makes more than all the engineers on my floor, combined. Know why? Because Russell follows the WGRs.

You have, if you’re like most writers, one or two hours per day to plot, write, and edit. If you only have 60 minutes, your social networking likely eats ten. If you’re fast. That’s about 3,000 minutes per year. 50 hours. Most of you can crank out 500-1000 words an hour. Do your own math, but you’ve just written about half of a novel on twitter. Know what kind of royalties twitter is paying these days?

Yeah. Let’s not do that any more. You have my permission. Take the ten extra minutes I’ve just gifted to you and write something brilliant.


RonEstradaRon Estrada writes Young Adult and Middle Grade novels for kids seeking God’s truth. He can be found at his website at RonEstradaBooks.com. And yes, you can find him on Facebook, too, but tell him to get back to work if you find him loitering there too long.


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