The Non-Fiction Books and Topic Workbooks
I’m doing a little shameless self-promotion here, because, well, I can! 😉
I often talk about my fiction. The past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching. I’m a tough Tiger Mom of a teacher, and I have a no-tolerance-no-excuses policy. You must do the work and turn it in on time, or you’re wasting everyone’s time. There’s no such thing as “no time to write”. Writing is always a choice. Not writing is always a choice. If you choose not to write regularly, re-think about whether or not you really want this type of career.
Books don’t write themselves. You have to sit down and write them, with a combination of imagination, determination, perseverance, and craft. Your JOB is to learn the craft, and use it as the foundation so your imagination can fly. Every choice of punctuation changes the emotional experience of the sentence and the scene for the reader. Every choice of detail means something different. The reader can only respond to what you actually have on the page, not what you thought you meant. While in my classes, you are expected to write a LOT. My classes are not theoretical; they are practical. I expect a minimum of 1000 words per day, 5 days a week, no excuses.
Students who survive my classes, put in the time and effort to do the work, generally do pretty well. I’ve had people who didn’t think they “could” write short stories not only write excellent ones, but get them published. I’ve had a good number of my students sign book contracts. Every time one of them lands the contract and comes that much closer to living the dream, I’m thrilled.
I truly believe there cannot ever be too many good writers. Humans have an insatiable need for stories, and there’s always room for another well-told story. Learn how to tell it well, and you fill a deep need in the human psyche.
As I grow as a writer, my own opportunities are expanding. Therefore, I must choose the whens and wheres of teaching more carefully, and screen private students more thoroughly. When the time/money ratio doesn’t work, I have to cut back.
Yet students still want the information from the classes. So I’m developing some of my workshops into non-fiction ebooks and Topic Workbooks. They contain the information from various workshops, plus some additional information and resources. They have lectures, exercises, reading lists, resources. I try to keep them reasonably priced. Your writing doesn’t get the line editing and word-by-word commentary that you get within class, but you work at your own pace. And within these topic workbooks is information you can refer back to for years.
CREATIVE STIMULUS contains updated material from my “5 in 10” and “Sensory Perceptions” Workshops, along with the “Writing Rituals” booklet, resources, and the infamous Tip Sheets I use in many of my classes. “5 in 10” is a series of exercises where you write, revise, edit and submit a minimum of 5 short stories in 10 weeks, based on found inspirations. Each piece has different guidelines and focuses on different elements. There are also optional exercises, where you can expand your stories, or create more than 5 short stories. This is a popular workshop of mine, lasting 2 1/2 months, demanding solid pace and juggling multiple projects. “Sensory Perceptions” has a parallel line of projects. One is a story that is layered over the weeks of the exercises, adding in each individual sense. The others are sense-specific, and we explore all five sense and intuition. “Writing Rituals” has ideas to help you past blocks, get you started, and give you confidence sending things out. The Tip Sheets cover things like dialogue, tags, paragraph structure, scenes, and internal cuts.
SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM is one of the Topic Workbooks, based on a popular seminar of mine. So often, writers lose opportunities because they don’t have a system in place. Every time they want to submit, they re-invent the wheel. This book walks you through setting up a Submission System that is logical, easy, and that you can use as you complete each project. This way, any time an opportunity lands on your desk, it takes minutes to put together a packet, not hours or days. And, when you have a novel that is ready to go, you have all the pieces assembled, so whatever individual agent or publisher guidelines request, it’s just a case of popping in the right piece.
THE SERIES BIBLE: CREATION AND MAINTENANCE, another Topic Workbook, contains step-by-step instructions how to create your series bible, a vital document to anyone who’s writing a series. Inconsistencies in characters or habits or settings need to be choices, not mistakes. Readers catch mistakes, often with more of an eagle eye than writers. Keeping track of the details makes the entire creation process of a series stay on track, and helps enormously through the editing and production stages of the book.
More topic workbooks will be released over the coming months, covering topics such as Dialogue, The First Three Pages, The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects, Journal into Fiction, Dissecting Submission Guidelines, and more. They are created with an eye to be useful for years to come, and I hope you enjoy them.
If you have any ideas for workshops or topic workbooks you’d like to see, please leave them in the comments section.
Setting Up Your Submission System:
The Series Bible: Creation and Maintenance: