As many of you know, I judge stories for the Writers of the Future contest. Today I want to talk about those stories that get an Honorable Mention.
On my computer, I have a story up. I’ve read the first two pages, and although I’m a little soft on the opening paragraph, the rest of the first page is quite intriguing. My reaction is, “Looks like I’ll have to read this one.” In other words, I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m hoping that it can be a grand prize winner. I’m hoping that someday I’ll be able to say, “I was the one who discovered this author.”
Why do I feel that I have to read this particular story? First off, it has an engaging idea at its core. I know that from the first page. Second, the author is writing with clarity and grace. Third, the pacing is just right. In short, there are a lot of good things happening here for a first page.
But maybe it’s not a grand prize winner. Maybe it’s an Honorable Mention. Honorable Mentions are my way of saying, “You’re writing almost at a professional level, but this one didn’t quite do it for me.” Or better yet, “I’d really like to see more from you. Keep trying!”
There are four simple reasons why a story may not rise above Honorable Mention.
1. The Idea for the Story Isn’t Particularly Fresh or Interesting.
You may not realize it, but the basic concept of your story has probably been done before. For example, let’s say that you decide to write a story about “Zombie Sharecroppers.” Great. You might write it beautifully, and I might get through the entire tale and enjoy it. But ultimately I have to look at it and ask, “Is the basic tenet of the story fresh and original? Did the author give it a surprise twist that lifted it above similar stories?” If the answer to both of those questions is no, then it will probably not get higher than an Honorable Mention. You’ll need to come at me next time with a fresh idea.
2. If the Idea Is Good, Then It May Be That Your Execution Is Off.
Very often I’ll get stories where the idea intrigues me and the story is written pretty well, but the author still has a few problems. Maybe the author uses too many weak verbs, or has word repetitions. I had one a couple of days ago that was set in Haiti, and while interesting, nothing about the characters’ voices suggested that the author had ever listened closely to a Haitian. The accents just weren’t right. A couple of persistent little bugs like this will put you in the Honorable Mention category.
3. The Story May Have Plotting Problems.
Very often I’ll have a story whose concept is good and the writing is beautiful, but the plot just doesn’t work. Usually it has a good opening (that’s why I got hooked), but perhaps the middle of the story is weak, or the ending doesn’t quite pan out.
I got a beautiful story last week, told in first-person. But the plot only worked because the author withheld information from the reader. Does the story work? Well, only if you don’t think about it too much. The author’s style and tone were exceptional in many ways, but I’m not sure that it should win the contest. I wasn’t even sure if it should be a finalist.
So when plotting your story, make certain that its plot is logical, that it builds with each try-fail cycle, and that you have a powerful ending that leaves the reader thinking and emotionally moved.
4. The Story Has Missing Elements.
This is the most frequent problem, and the hardest to solve.
For instance, when I finish a story, I want it to have some universality. I want to understand why this story is important for others to read. In other words, “Does this story have a message?” Sometimes, the answer is no, and that usually means that it won’t hold up well in a competition.
Those missing elements can be a lot of things. Sometimes I’ll have a story where only one character is involved. There’s no interaction. As a judge, I have to wonder why? Why didn’t the author put in a sidekick, someone to talk to in order to make this more engaging?
Usually the author is blind to his or her own missing element. Some authors, for example, forget to describe what is off in the distance (a line of mountains, a roiling sea). Others forget to describe the middle-ground (a golden pyramid with a congregation of Egyptian slaves and merchants bowing to the god-king at its peak). So when you read their stories, the protagonist is often bumping into characters that seem to come out of nowhere.
In other stories, the author forgets to engage the senses. A lack of smells or touch is the largest problem.
Still other authors have no internal dialog, so that you never know what their character is thinking or feeling. Instead, the author writes in a cinematic style that keeps the reader at a distance. In such tales, the reader might as well be watching a poorly made movie.
Frequently I see stories that just don’t have enough conflicts, or the conflicts that they do have aren’t dealt with as rigorously as they should be.
Or maybe your opening doesn’t have a hook.
Or maybe your descriptions aren’t crisp enough, or your characters feel a bit flat and stereotypical, or your language isn’t fresh or beautiful.
When I first began entering competitions, I used to make up lists of ways that judges might look at my story, and I’d try to figure out how to tackle each problem. Some judges might be big on humor, while others might look for powerfully emotional endings. So I’d look at the 25 things that I thought judges might be grading me on, and try to be excellent in each area. That helped me avoid blind spots quite a bit. It also let me win some good money, so that I didn’t have to take a job while in college.
At the end of the day, when a story wins an Honorable Mention in the contest, it means that you are on the right track.
So you should be able to look at your story and find ways to “boost” the story, perhaps by adding new dimensions to it (for example, giving me internal dialog and referencing smells), or perhaps by fixing a weak middle to the tale.
If you win an Honorable Mention, you should know that I’m rooting for you!
📌 The Scoop About Last Week On
Apex’s Strategy and Mastermind
The week of March 6, Apexers got to:
- Go Wide Wide for the Win with Mark Leslie Lefebvre and understand how to be Successful publishing across numerous platforms in multiple formats.
- Learn How to Write Compelling and Well-Structured Scenes with Savannah Gilbo by getting clarification what a scene is and is not, along with a breakdown of the five essential elements which keep our readers turning the page; and
- Be fascinated by the Taxonomy of Tension with Tim Storm as he not only broke down what each type of tension is but also gave us wonderful insight on how to use these building blocks to create layers and resonance throughout our own stories.
STRATEGY (3/6/23) – Mark Leslie Lefebvre highlights
From the philosophy of why to go wide to the how-to’s with concrete examples, Mark gave us the stepping stones and leaping-off places to create our best publishing strategies. Because the open mindset and strategies will help you leverage your IP effectively and maximize your earning from multiple income streams.
Mark talked of various ideas, highlighting there “are more formats in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophies so be open to the all the possibilities currently available to authors.”
“Wide” means more than just eBooks and the ongoing “Amazon exclusive VS publishing wide” option. And, “Hybrid” means adopting an openness to both traditional publishing and self-publishing options.
Mark advised to stop jumping in and out of KU / KDP SELECT because it forces you to you to start from scratch each time. It takes time to build traction on wide platforms. You’ll look unprofessional to retailers and you’ll disappoint your readership. Amazon is not the only game in town: Stop with Amazon-only gifts or cross-promoting Amazon Exclusive authors. Why? It’s not an effective way to build a wide audience.
Things to do highlights:
- EMBRACE FORMATS
- Publishing indie usually means two main options: eBooks and POD (print-on-demand) paperbacks.
- FREE (KDP, KWL, Draft2Digital, etc) for eBook
- FREE for Print (KDP Print, D2D PRINT [beta]) or minimal cost (Ingram Spark)
- Additionally – with POD/Print, you can do TP, HC, and Large Print editions
- Publishing indie usually means two main options: eBooks and POD (print-on-demand) paperbacks.
- EMBRACE “CHAPBOOKS,” NEW/EXPERIMENTAL FORMATS, and AUDIO
- Embrace REUSE, RECYCLE, REPUBLISH: You can sell shorts (fiction, non-fiction articles), re-print rights to other markets, self-Publishing them into eBooks/Collections, and important to know – an eBook isn’t restricted to 300 pages bound between 2 pieces of cloth.
- EMBRACE FOREIGN LANGUAGE
- EMBRACE GLOBAL SALES: Amazon dominates the US market and a large share of the UK but Apple, Kobo, etchave a decent global presence.
- The Big Five (direct or through a third party –ie, Draft2Digital): Kindle, Apple Books, Google, Kobo, Nook But there is also Tolino, Vivlio, Smashwords, Scribd, Playster, Eden Books, Radish, etc.
- EMBRACE UNIVERSAL BOOK LINKS
- Free Tool from Draft2Digital for Universal Link to ALL retailers. Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, etc
- Free Tool from Draft2Digital for Universal Link to ALL retailers. Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, etc
- EMBRACE FREE AUTHOR BRAND TOOLS like Author Central (Amazon), Goodreads, BookBubAuthor Profile, Books2Read (Draft2Digital)
- EMBRACE FREE CONTENT, IN PERSON SELLING, and BUNDLES & COLLABORATIONS
- EMBRACE SELLING DIRECT
- eBooks –BookFunnel (PayPal, PayHip, etc)
- Audiobooks –FindawayVoices AUTHORS DIRECT
- Print –In person
- EMBRACE YOUR SPECIALITY / EXPERTISE, LIBRARIES (Digitally), AND NEW TECH / NEW OPPORTUNITY
- PROMO OPPORTUNITIES include: Kobo –Kobo Writing Life Promo Tab, Nook –B&N Press Promo Tab / Coupon Codes, Google Play Partner Center –Promotions / Price / Coupon Codes, Draft2Digital and other Distributors, and Smashwords–CouponCodes.
- And EMBRACE YOUR IMAGINATION: You are a writer, a creator. You will discover new ideas, new experiments AND be the champion and pioneer of your own path
In addition to the above highlights we were treated to solid strategies to employ no matter where on the publishing path we currently are on and more!
MASTERMIND (3/6/23) – Savannah Gilbo highlights
Savannah gave us the tools in an easy to understand presentation to help us write compelling scenes. She began by explaining the differences in scenes and chapters, and what a scene really is and is not.
- Scenes: Mini-stories that link together to create your overarching story. They have to have a beginning, middle and end. They are not 1) a lengthy description of setting, characters or weather, 2) a character reflecting and/or thinking, or 3) random events that just happen and don’t add to the global story, or paragraphs of backstory
- Chapters: arbitrary divisions within a story that exist to control the reader’s experience.
She then got into the meat of her presentation and broke down the set-up in a mini-story aka scene and gave us several examples from well-known stories:
- Each scene should have an Inciting Incident which creates the character’s goal,
- A Turning Point, something that throws a monkey wrench in the character’s plan, which creates…
- A Crisis where the character has to make a decision – something that is either two equally bad things or two equally good things so it isn’t an easy decision to make.
- This is followed by the Climax – the character makes the decision and acts upon it
- And then the Resolution. It is important that we see each scene’s resolution. This is the moment where the reader experiences how the character’s decision worked out for them. If they succeeded or failed. How the character feels about it. This helps to establish sense of forward momentum into the next scene and provides meaning which impacts the overall story.
Savannah also gave us a list of tips to help with our scenes:
- Stick to one POV character per scene
- Establish Where and When the Scene is Happening
- Give your character a specific goal in each scene
- Make sure each scene includes a mini-arc of change
- Make sure your POV character has agency. It’s the consequences of their actions that makes the story interesting and forces the character to grow.
- Show what your character is thinking and feeling
- Use the ‘story present’ to trigger backstory and exposition
- Only include dialogue that is relevant to the scene
- Make sure the scene contributes to the global story. First think external plot – every scene should push the story forward to the climatic moment where your protagonist either succeeds or fails and then Second, the internal arc – which show us character, growth and theme.
To learn more about Savannah, visit her at https://www.savannahgilbo.com/
MASTERMIND (3/11/23) Tim Storm highlights
Tim wowed us with his thorough examination of different types of tensions and how to utilize them effectively in our stories.
He said it’s important to understand what tension is because what we name, we can tame.
Overall story tension is the anxiety that results from a lack of resolution.
- Intrigue tension – readers need to keep reading to get answers from the mystery presented.
- This the fastest way to create tension for the reader
- This engages the reader with intellectual curiosity but not emotional concern
- Mystery, of course, is rooted in a limited POV view
- Drama tension – This arises from conflict situations and it spurs the reader to wonder “what will happen next!” It’s important to use conflict that will matters most and has the most consequences because it’s what makes the conflict matter and makes the story interesting.
- True threat to survival (physical, psychological, spiritual)
- Speaks to the character’s history and motivation
- Creates change in the characters either in state of mind or circumstances
- Anticipatory tension – This arises from the expectation of things to come. The reader wants to know what’ happening next but there’s not really any conflict or mystery in the scene.
- Potential revelations, threats, solutions, enlightments, or unions
- Romantic tensions, perceptions, setting, wondering where things will go
Tim also gave us tips for creating mood and tension in language itself such as letter combinations in the prose.
A recommended resource is Perrine’s Sound and Sense: an Introduction to Poetry.
Another topic in the conversation which he went into depth with was Reverberations and USQS.
To sum up but by no means does it do it justice:
You want to provoke questions. Some of the story questions and conflicts will reverberate and last through long parts of the story, some won’t, they’ll be like a quick “ping.
Tim offers a Writing Craft Club that explores monthly craft topics. Reading demand aren’t high and the craft examination is what is in depth. You can find out more about Tim at stormwritingschool.com
March Microfiction Madness
2nd Round Prompt
1st Training Workshop
2nd Training Workshop
- Joshua Dyer and the other judges have gone through all the entries and have announced who will continue on to Round 2. Everyone who entered should have received feedback from the judges on what was working and what wasn’t. Thank you Jen Bair, Jan Nerenberg, Danuta Raine, Mike Jack Stoumbos, and Joshua Dyer!
- The prompt for Round 2, posted earlier on the Apex-writers Facebook group, is up and our contestants have until midnight ET / 10 pm MT today, March 13, 2023 to email it before the deadline.
- Additionally, one of the opportunities from the writing tournament is to grow and learn which means we are being treated with solid info with writing and submission training written workshops. The first two are included! STRONGLY RECOMMEND READING THE WORKSHOPS BEFORE SUBMITTING FOR ROUND #2
First Up – Round 1 Is Complete and Those Who Made the Short List Is Out!
We have a lot of talented writers here in Apex. Congratulations to the following writers (in no particular order) who made the Short List!
Philip Janowski–Michael Wine–Jan Villaverde–Jade Wildy–Dina Scott
V. R. Lassmann–Scott M. Sands–Tammy Burke–R.A. Johnson–Jon Larson
Larry Pass–Jennifer McKinney–Megan Higgins–Shannon L Simmons
Logan R. Kearsley–Crystal Bechler–Eric Stallsworth–Scott Davis
Brandon Clark–Gina M Vick–Maggie England–Blake Wallace
Jenna Livingston–Ruth Nickle–Marcia McIntosh
Whether you felt you did well or not in this round, those scores are now gone and won’t carry over. Clean slate. New round. New challenge coming tomorrow. For now, celebrate your victory. You all have earned it. Writing a condensed story on such a short fuse is a tremendous task.
You’ve also been trained and informed on formatting. Any stories not meeting our submission guidelines will be disqualified. Training wheels are off. As always, if you have questions on formatting, ask before you submit.
Congratulations again on a job well done!
March Microfiction Madness: Second Round!
SHORT LIST ROUND PROMPT (Round #2):
Last round, we gave you a specific prompt to use. This time we’re giving you genres.
Step 1. Choose a genre combo from the list below. Elements of BOTH genres must be present in your 300-word stories.
Step 2. You must incorporate a chess match into whichever of the genre combos you chose from Step 1. A literal game of chess.
The same rules and submission guidelines apply. Failure to adhere to them will result in a DQ. That’s disqual, not Dairy Queen.
You have until tonight (Monday, March 13) at midnight ET (10pm MST) to submit your stories. Cover letters. Word counts. All of the details matter now. No second chances. Ignore the guidelines and training workshops at your own risk.
Best of luck in this round!
[Editor note: prompt dropped in the Apex Facebook group as of Sunday, March 12 – reposted above. Also, in case you are not in the short list, feel free to play this at home and share your microfiction writing with your story circle. ]
Rules and where to send is pinned at the top of Apex Facebook group. Or, look for #MarchMicrofictionMadness
March Microfiction Madness TRAINING WORKSHOP #1 by Joshua Dyer:
I understand some, if not most, of you are inexperienced in this process. That’s why I created this tournament, to help you level up faster. Your judges are here to help you in this regard. That said, I present our first post-submission training workshop. Even if you don’t advance in the tourney, stick around. We’ll put out more training, tips, and a bonus at the end of the tournament. Our goal is to help you prepare your stories here for submission to paying markets. Without further ado, let’s roll!
First and foremost, if a publisher requests particular items in a submission package make sure you send everything they request. In our case, we’re requesting a cover letter and a story.
Overall, the cover letters looked good. Make sure you project confidence. You don’t want to say “I know you’ll love this”, but don’t come across as desperate either. If you know who you’re sending your letters to, address them in your salutations. Otherwise, keep it generic.
ex: Dear, Ms. Smith… or… Good day….
Your first paragraph is all about your story. One or two sentences will do. No need to summarize your story here. Just give them the “metadata.”
ex: Please find attached my 300-word fantasy story “Dragons and Stuff” for your consideration.
Word count, title, and get out. Titles should appear in quotes. This includes in your manuscripts. Some editors won’t care if you underline it instead, but tread with caution. NOTE: This is for a cover letter to magazines and anthologies. Cover letters to agents are a TOTALLY DIFFERENT CRITTER. Don’t mix them up here.
Your second paragraph is your bio section. Include previous or upcoming publications, writing awards, pro writing group memberships (STOMP, STOMP… this one), etc. Avoid including: self-published materials (unless it’s selling like crazy), irrelevant work experiences, etc. If you don’t have anything yet, just say this would be your first published work. Editors love discovering new talent.
ex: My previous publications include “Fairies and Stuff”, “Sexy, Sparkle Vampires”, and “Bearded Dudes With Magic.” I am a member of SFWA, RWA, and the professional writing group Daivid Farland’s Apex Writers. Thank you.
or… This would be my first published story. Thank you.
Sincerely, I.M. Awritin
Okay. Most of your scripts looked good.
Common minor issues:
- Not removing the trailing space buffer between lines. Go to the Paragraphs tab> remove space after paragrapgh. Set this to none or 0.0.
- Uncentered titles or no title at all.
- Titles and/or word counts as headers. Make them standard text.
- Text in larger font than your story body. They should be the same size.
- Wrong font. Follow submission guidelines. Ours is Times New Roman, 12-point font, single-spaced.
- Over the maximum word count. 300 maximum.
- Missing cover letters.
BLUF (bottom line up front):
If you fail to follow submission guidelines with a publisher, open call, or agent, you will be rejected.
Wrong font = form rejection.
Submitting your 150,000 word epic when they request 120,000 words max = form rejection.
Missing a component in their requested package of materials = form rejection.
Editors and agents don’t have the time. If you can’t show the minimum level of care and professionalism, they won’t give you the time of day if you were in a Swiss watchmaker’s shop.
This tournament is meant to be a learning experience, but you also have to pay attention and approach it as professionals. To that end, any future submissions that don’t adhere to our guidelines will be disqualified. PLEASE, don’t be that person.
You have editors, professors, and experienced writers on this judging panel. They’ll probably tell you similar things. If you want your writing to be a career or business, then you need to start treating it like one. Don’t saw your legs off before you take your first step on this journey.
March Microfiction Madness TRAINING WORKSHOP #2 by Joshua Dyer:
We were astounded and entertained by your first round submissions. You offered a wide variety of variations on a theme. Kudos to you!
In this installment of our training workshops, we’ll address a few common soft spots in your stories and give you tips on fixing them.
Weak sense of setting.
We gave you a castle to work with in this prompt, but you still need to establish it in your story early on. A given prompt element doesn’t exempt it from existence in a story. Establish settings.
The fix. Use your five sense (or six for you psychics) to entrance your readers. Not all at once, but choose one or two that help set the mood of your scenes and weave your storytelling spell.
Weak story logic.
In one of your revision passes, double check to ensure the logic in your story is cohesive. Can food really last decades without spoiling? Why is your MC suddenly able to fly at the end without explanation? Can an infant survive all alone for very long? If a character loves the other one minute, then charges them in an unexplained rage the next you have a problem.
The fix. Sometimes this fix is as simple as having someone beta read your work. Humans are logical creatures—most of the time. As mention above, double check the scenarios you’ve left for your characters. Do they make sense? If they’re illogical, is there an explanation?
Editing and typos.
Carefully edit your manuscript. There are so few words in microfiction; each word, punctuation mark, and syntactical decision counts. Some editors may forgive one or two. If you make it a habit, you’ll get a form rejection.
The fix. Go over your story with a careful eye. Continue to learn your craft. Acquire solid refernce materials. The Chicago Manual of Style never fails. Also, watch the video the short story lecture delivered at BYU by Mary Robinette Kowal: https://youtu.be/blehVIDyuXk .
POV shifts/head hopping.
If you begin your scene from one point of view, make sure the actions and observations remain consistent throughout your scene.
The fix. Ask yourself: do the info/sensory input/feelings described come from my POV character? Could they know/sense/feel what I wrote on the page, or is it only intelligible from another character’s point of view?
Some characters felt like game pieces that you moved through the scene. They could have been anybody because they lacked enough individuality to make us develop a strong connection with them.
The fix. Use the suggestions we showed you with economizing your word counts and use these freed words to show us more of who your characters are. Give them strong convictions, wishes, dreams, hopes, fears, etc. Read David Farland’s course on character circuitry. How do your characters relate to and feel about one another? Why? Show it.
We hope these recommendations help you in your journeys to improve your art. It is your art, after all. Our advice is merely that—advice.
Best of luck in the next round.
📌 On Deck for Next Week:
Monday’s (3/20/23 – 5:30 MT/7:30 pm ET) Strategy Meeting – Angel Ackerman, Nancy Scott & Gayle Hendricks from Parisian Phoenix Publishing – A look inside their company
These women will be discussing what they’ve learned in their first year-and-a-half in the publishing business, and their values as a publishing team. As a small, craft publisher they focus on designing unique books that represent the author’s vision but don’t fit the groove of the traditional, commercial manuscript. Their mission is to match writers with editors, visual artists and unique environments to create books that provide more than a reading experience and build a supportive community, where writers, authors, artists and creative professionals can network and find resources. Bring your questions because they are seeking to create a dialogue and provide their current open submission calls.
Angel Ackerman, founded Parisian Phoenix Publishing in 2021, as the brand behind her paranormal women’s fiction series, Fashion and Fiends, which debuted with the first volume, Manipulations, in September. The project barrel-rolled into a full-fledged craft press as Angel asked fellow writers and artists for help with projects being proposed to her. As of January 2023, Parisian Phoenix has nine published books ranging from an anthology of marginalized voices to a romantic comedy, a Christian devotional in production, and an 11th book (of short stories) in the editing phase.
She worked as a print journalist for 15 years, an editor and a managing editor before transitioning into non-profit communications and development. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and French from Moravian College, a bachelor’s in International Affairs/French (with honors) from Lafayette College, and initiated a master’s degree in World History at West Chester University.
She’s been published in Ten Word Stories by Dime Show Review, Rum Punch Press, StepAway Magazine, two volumes of The SAGE Encylcopedia, and did book reviews for Hippocampus Magazine and Journal of Global South Studies. When not examining the world with a post-colonial critical theorist’s eye, Angel loves to travel and study foreign languages. She has visited Canada, France, Tunisia, Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and various parts of Russia (such as trekking to Siberia for pizza). Read more of her escapades at www.AngelAckerman.com and follow her on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Nancy Scott, editor and writer, has published more than 925 essays and poems in magazines, literary journals, anthologies, newspapers, and as audio commentaries. She served as assistant editor and contributor for the Parisian Phoenix anthology, Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money. She has several chapbooks in print in collaboration with mixed media artist Maryann Riker available through Amazon or bookshop.org/ParisianPhoenix and older chapbooks distributed by Parisian Phoenix. She won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in *82 Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Braille Forum, Chrysanthemum, Kaleidoscope, One Sentence Poems, Shark Reef, Wordgathering, and The Mighty, which regularly publishes to Yahoo News, and other disability-focused publications.
Nancy never misses a spacewalk or launch, having followed NASA since the first moon landing. She would have loved to be an astronaut or a journalist in NASA’s public affairs office.
Gayle Hendricks, art director and writer, discovered her love of art via a 64-box of Crayola crayons and a Spirograph. She thought she’d be an architect or an art teacher when she grew up but an nontraditional educational trajectory—AA from Northampton Community College, BA in sociology from Cedar Crest, MFA from Marywood University—led to a career in graphic design. She started setting signs in a local department store (and fell in love with typography), moved into advertising, and eventually got a job at a local print shop in the paper era. Production in that print shop introduced her to a machine called the Mac IIci and Gayle learned very early the art of computerized graphic design and publishing.
When she’s not working with authors or doing volunteer work for nonprofits like the YWCA of Bethlehem, Girl Scouts and League of Women Voters, Gayle teaches at Northampton Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College and East Stroudsburg University.
Gayle created the concept and logo of Parisian Phoenix Publishing for a faculty art show in 2008. She is also the pen behind the rom-com writer Seneca Blue, whose novel Trapped incorporates original photography by Joan Zachary, another member of the Parisian Phoenix staff.
Learn more about Parisian Phoenix Publishing and join the mailing list at ParisianPhoenix.com and peruse their books at bookshop.org/ParisianPhoenix . Follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Patreon.
Monday’s Mastermind, (3/20/23 at 7 pm MT/ 9pm ET ) – LISA CRON – WIRED FOR STORY
Imagine knowing what we’re hardwired to crave in every story we encounter, what hooks readers from pre-school to 80, and what keeps them turning pages. The answer is a game-changer, especially since the secret to writing a compelling story has very little to do with the surface plot or learning to “write well.” We’ll explore what the reader’s brain is hungry for, why, what a story actually is, and why writers are therefore the most powerful people on the planet. The result? You’ll be able to zero in on what your story is really about before you write word one (or if you’re in the midst of your umpteenth rewrite, before you write another word). You’ll not only produce a more powerful novel, chances are you’ll drastically reduce your rewrite time.
Lisa is the author of Wired for Story, Story Genius and most recently, Story or Die: How to Use Brain Science to Engage, Persuade, and Change Minds in Business and in Life. Her TEDx talk, Wired for Story, opened Furman University’s 2014 TEDx conference. Lisa spent a decade in publishing, and has been a literary agent, television producer, and story analyst for Hollywood studios. She served on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts MFA program in visual narrative and, since 2006, has taught in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. In her work as a private story coach, Lisa works with writers, nonprofits, educators, and organizations, helping them master the unparalleled power of story.
Saturday’s Mastermind (3/25/23 – 8 am MT / 10 am ET) – Pattie Giordani & Tina Gallagher – Marketing for Extroverts & Introverts
We cheekily divided methods into those for “introverts” and “extroverts” but authors should pick and choose from each type to suit their goals.
Marketing for Introverts
Marketing professional and published author Tina Gallagher discusses ways for introverted authors to successfully market themselves and their books. This workshop offers creative ways for authors to reach their target market without stepping too far out of their comfort zone.
Marketing for Extroverts
Public relations professional and freelance writer/editor Pattie Giordani discusses how extroverts can market themselves and their books out in the real world. Learn proven and fun methods to meet readers face-to-face so they’ll remember you—and your books!
About Pattie Giordani & Tina Gallagher:
Pattie Giordani has been writing since she could hold a crayon. As a grade-schooler, she wrote, edited, and published a newsletter for neighbors on her street, and later was a reporter for her high school newspaper. After years of marriage, raising children, divorce, and a big move, her love of writing resurfaced. She went back to college—funded by her employer, so she earned a management degree from Moravian University. While there, she took as many writing classes as she could. One of her first published articles started as a class assignment.
Eventually she landed an assistant features editor position at The Express-Times newspaper, followed by a job as an editor at a national nonprofit association. All along she wrote articles for local and national publications. Pattie has also served as publicity chair for the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and the SouthSide Film Festival. She lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with her husband and two crazy cats, and spends her free time with her family, including watching her grandsons run track and play baseball and flag football.
As a tween, Tina Gallagher and her best friend would create happily ever afters for their favorite soap opera couples. Eventually, the soap operas lost their appeal, but the writing never did. So, it’s not surprising she now makes her living writing romance novels.
Before living her dream of being a full-time author, she worked a spectrum of jobs ranging from baking and cake decorating to project management and marketing.Tina holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications with a minor in English from the University of Scranton. For more than twenty years, she used her education and experience to promote and grow corporations. Now she uses them to create unique, sustainable ways to expose readers to her books.
In between creating memorable characters, traveling, and taking pole dance lessons, Tina enjoys spending time with her handyman husband, two grown children, and Irish Setter named Thea.
📌 PLUS, we have a great line-up coming up:
- Donald Maass, literary agent and CEO of the Donald Maass Literary Agency and author of the BREAKOUT NOVEL and THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT IN FICTION will be presenting “The Emotional Craft in Fiction” on Monday, April 10.
WANT TO SEE WHO IS ON WHEN?? Check out the links below.
Strategy at a Glance
One last thing for this post: If there is a topic you would love to have a presenter on, let us know! Serving our community and offering quality information is a huge part of what we do here at Apex.
Unlock Your Full Writing Potential with NLP Master Coach Forrest Wolverton
Helping writers reach their full potential is our foremost guiding principle and we offer not only years of resources and education, and a vibrant community for networking; but also, the keys to an effective and joyful mindset. Why mindset? Mindset is the “magic” key that helps you unlock the pathway to success.
You probably can relate to some or all of these: Nothing is quite as demotivating as staring at a blank page for hours or even days, feeling completely stuck. Or, being plagued with the nagging feeling of imposter’s syndrome. Or being hit with yet another rejection email, or maybe worse, no responses at all to your submissions. Any of these easily could make a creative just give up BUT please don’t.
- Your stories are not only important, but the fact is, no one will ever be able to tell YOUR story like you.
- You don’t have to face this alone.
We are thrilled to introduce you to our NLP Master Coach Forrest Wolverton. His expertise, backed by not only a decade of training but by working alongside renowned author and writing coach, David Farland, gives him the unique skillset to help writers break through their blocks and achieve their writing goals.
Forrest has helped many writers already and he can help YOU with unleashing your creativity and taking your writing to the next level.
How will he do this? Forrest’s unique approach to NLP techniques helps to:
· Identify root causes to your writing challenges
· Guides you to your inner writing genius within your subconscious mind
· Connects you to the power of flow, and
· Assists you with embracing the confidence you need for greater success.
At Apex Writers, we believe everyone has the potential to be a great writer. If this is your calling, Forrest Wolverton as your NLP coach can help you to break through your blocks, discover your flow state, and level up your skill set and potential. Take the first step toward achieving your writing dreams and schedule a consultation with Forrest today. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page
You can still get your copies of the two new “Dave” books released recently from WordFire Press!
- Wizards and Wolves, the memorial anthology for the Dave Farland Scholarship fund
- Million Dollar Outlines, one of the best audience analysis, writing preparation and outlining books available.
If you buy directly from the WordFire Press links below, Kevin will autograph the foreword he wrote in the first 12 trade paperback copies of Wizards and Wolves and/or the first 12 trade paperbacks of Million Dollar Outlines. Ordering directly from Kevin instead of Amazon or other channels ensures that a larger amount goes into the scholarship fund in honor of Dave.
Did you know Apex offers Monday night write-ins?
Mike Jack Stoumbos hosts them every Monday night
8:30 MT / 10:30 pm ET.
Zoom link is in the Apex calendar.
Apex’s SFF discussion topics for this week:
Tuesday, 3/14/23 at 5:30 MT/ 7:30 ET
- What is your most pressing/ worrisome craft-based writerly thing. And, how do you resolve it? For Monica, it’s writing the emotional stuff. She often uses the emotional thesaurus. Bring your craft struggles and your solutions. You may find additional ones as well.
- Reader sites. Goodreads/ Hard copy/ Library/ etc. Is there any value on being on those sites.
- Do Reviews count if they are not on Amazon?
- Do you have your books on other sites other than Amazon, such as kobo and B&K? And, is it worth the time and effort?
To learn more about SFF and/or how to join, contact Monica or Jan.
Reading for Writers (An Apex Affiliate Group)
At Reading for Writers this Thursday, 7PM MT (12PM Friday in Sydney) we are discussing Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn. There is lots to talk about. We can plumb the depths of this masterful author’s voice and technique, her deft handling of theme and genre, and her outstanding creation of character, setting and scene.
Everyone is welcome.
Next meeting: April 14th–Naomi Novik: A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik is subtitled as Lesson One of The Scholomance. Released in 2020, this is an example of contemporary, mostly well-received YA from a best-selling author. Universal studios have optioned the series. There has been some criticism of poor diversity representation, and that could be interesting to explore in our conversation. However, it is possible that offending material may have been already removed from our current editions. The fact that readers can express concern and text can be altered so quickly is another topic worthy of discussion.
From the website: “With flawless mastery, Naomi Novik creates a heroine for the ages—a character so sharply realized and so richly nuanced that she will live on in hearts and minds for generations to come.”
Do You Use Google Calendar?
If you do, you’re in luck because now you can simply subscribe to all Apex Meetings and get reminders sent directly to you. Just click this Google Calendar
Midweekers is on the Apex calendar!
Every Sunday at 5 pm MT (7pm ET) we set up our goals for the week, and share resources. Come join the party after the “official accounting” part of the meeting we turn things over to craft discussion, brainstorming, pitch practice and more. Open to all Apex members no matter where on the path you are!
Search Tools to Make Things Easier
Searchable Index for Mastermind
*****INCLUDES NEW CALENDAR FEATURE AT PAGE BOTTOM*****
And We also have a handy place where you can see past newsletters!
📌 Shout-Out to Some of Our Apexers for This Week!
- To To Martin Shoemaker for finding his target audience with his first review for Making Story Models.
- To Oli Veyn for her rom-com, Zomer & Keuning, that will coming this summer under her own name Anja Janssen. It’s a college love story during frosh week with lots of humor, beer, and of course, love!
- To Day Leitao for her interview with Indie Author Live Chats 2023!
- And to Jermaine Martin who has an interview with Wroteabook.org. You can pre-order his Steampunk Western SciFi Adventure novel, The Engineer’s Apprentice, on Amazon!
📌 If you have success news you’d like to share about yourself or another Apexer, please email Tammy and have Apexer Good News in the subject line. We’d love to do a shout-out!!