Blog Archives

Get Your Writing in Gear in 2014

For those of you who don’t know or need to be reminded, I do offer coaching services for writers at any stage of the game. From not-even-started-yet-because-you-have-no-idea-where-to-begin to already-published-and-looking-to-get-more-published. The services include everything from editing to critiquing to mentoring to brainstorming to accountability. Whatever you need, whatever you want. We can cater anything to your schedule, goals, and abilities.

A sample list of services and prices can be found on my coaching page (members of my Darlington Society get 20% off) but below are some examples of coaching plans and prices (per month). I think you’ll find the pricing competitive with the rest of the market at worst, a bargain at best. And if you join my Darlington Society the prices drop even more.

Example #1: For the casual writer who needs some guidance

1 critique/edit (up to 15 pages) and 1 half-hour phone chat to discuss it  (once a month) . . . $60 or $48 for TDS members

Example #2: For the novice who needs a little more guidance/instruction/editing

2 critique/edits and 2 hour-long phone chats to discuss it and for instruction . . . $140 or $116 for TDS members

Example #3: For the established writer who struggles with motivation/scheduling and needs accountability

1 half-hour phone call every other week . . . $40 or $32 for TDS members

Example #4: For the established writer who needs someone to look over material and critique it, comment on it, catch errors, etc.

2 critiques (up to 15 pages each) per month . . . $80 or $64 for TDS members

So you can see there are services and combinations of services that won’t break the bank. And there are a plethora of other scenarios available. Again, the services will be totally based on your need, desires, and finances.

If you’re interested, contact me either by leaving a comment below or emailing me privately and we can discuss your needs and wants. The first half-hour consultation call is FREE.

Hope to hear from you soon!


Reach Your Writing Goals!

Writer Wordart

(Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

A few months ago I added a page to my website introducing a new coaching service I was offering for writers. I didn’t really push the service, didn’t do much in the way of announcing anything. I just kind of put it out there and let it be.

To be honest, I wasn’t ready to start accepting clients on a regular basis.

But now I’m ready.

If you’re a writer, especially a fiction writer, or if you aspire to be a writer and are looking for some personal coaching/tutoring to hone your craft . . . I can help.

If you have questions about writing or publishing that you need answers for . . . I can help.

If you’d like someone who is experienced and impartial to look at your material and give an honest opinion . . . I can help.

If you’re trying to determine whether to go the traditional route or self-published route but can’t decide which is best for you . . . I can help (I’ve done both).

If you’re discouraged and in need of some encouragement and help in determining what your next move should be . . . I can definitely help!

Please, if any of the above scenarios describes you, check out my coaching page, review the pricing, and contact me. I’m flexible. If what’s offered on that page doesn’t fit your needs or budget, contact me anyway and we can work something out. I want to see writers succeed.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Writing Un-Blocked . . . FREE E-book!

Writer's Block

Writer’s Block (Photo credit: thorinside)

Writer’s block is an enigma of sorts. Is it real? Is there really such a thing? Or is it all in one’s head?

I think if writer’s block was put on trial we could call thousands, no, millions of witnesses to attest to the fact that, yes, the block is real. They’d swear under oath, sit in that little box witnesses sit in, then forget what they were going to say.

And yes, writer’s block is in one’s head. Where else would it be?

I think writer’s block can grow from a variety of factors including frustration, anxiety, pressure, poor time management, and many others. It can come in a variety of forms and last for durations of varying times. But it is real. You can’t tell millions of writers who have suffered from it that it’s  bogus. It’d be like telling people that their dreams aren’t real, they’re just figments of their imagination. Um. Okay.

So, the question as I see it is not whether writer’s block is real or not but rather what do we  do with it? How do we prevent it? And once it slithers in and clogs our neural pathways, how do we get rid of it?

WritingUnBlock2All this week you can get for FREE a little e-book I wrote about writer’s block, how to prevent it and how to defeat it. It’s called WRITING unBLOCK! It’s a quick read but I hope you get something out of it that will help you prevent and/or defeat that dreaded block.

Please help spread the word about this book by sharing this post or the book’s Amazon page on all your social networking hang-outs. Thank you!

Issues Writers Deal With, a Series

Writer Wordart

(Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Over the next several weeks I’m going to periodically discuss different issues I deal with as a writer. Issues like:

  • The pressure of sales numbers
  • Dealing with negative reviews
  • Writing about the supernatural
  • Time management/fitting writing into a busy schedule
  • The issue of faith and fiction
  • Violence in fiction
  • Creating villains without becoming one
  • Romance and the element of love
  • Balancing fiction and real life
  • The ethics of using real people to create characters

If you’re a writer or want to become a writer or do any kind of writing I’m sure you’ll find these upcoming posts interesting.

If you’re not a writer, never were, and don’t want to be I really do think you’ll still enjoy these posts. It’ll give you an inside view into some of what writers deal with, what goes through our mind, and some of the decisions we make while writing. It’s actually pretty interesting.

Check in on these posts too as I’ll also feature some killer deals on books and occasional giveaways too.

Here’s a couple now:

Get my novel FRANTIC for only $1.99!

Enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win FEARLESS.

FearlessCoverAnd if you haven’t done so yet, check out my newest thriller, FEARLESS. Here’s my challenge: Go to the Amazon page and click on the “Look Inside” feature. Read the first several pages. I bet you’ll be hooked. If you’re not, I want to hear about it.

WARNING: 5 Reasons to NOT Attend a Writers Conference

Fans dressed as Klingons in a Star Trek Conven...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so lots of writers have written blog posts about the virtues of writers conferences. They list all the benefits and glorify them until you’d think you were slapping down hundreds of dollars for eternal life. Well, I hate to rain on anyone’s parade but I’m about to bring in the thunderheads and set ’em loose.

Here are 5 reasons NOT to attend a writers conference.

  1. You may see someone you know. Or, forbid it all, meet someone new, maybe even someone from a foreign state like, say, Florida. You’ll have to talk to them, get to know them, and probably find out you share a lot in common. In fact, you’ll be surrounded by a bunch of weird writer-types who share your same interests. It’ll remind you of one of those bizarre conventions where everyone dresses up like writers and pretends to be fascinated with what you’re currently working on.
  2. Editors and agents are there for the specific reason of talking to you and seeing your work. You may find out that they’re quite normal people, most of them even nice people, and then they’ll be knocked off that pedestel you’ve put them on. All fear will be banished.
  3. People will want to read what you’ve written. You’ll feel exposed, vulnerable. Your writing will be critiqued and then you’ll feel like you need to actually improve it.
  4. You’ll be encouraged to explore and understand why you feel that urge to write so much. They’ll get all emotional on you and throw around words like “calling” and “purpose.” You’ll be challenged to dig deep and search your soul. Ugh!
  5. You will become a better writer and increase your chances of getting published. The worst of all . . . someone may actually take you and your passion for writing seriously. Then you’ll have to spend real time writing and reading and honing your craft.

Are you really game for all that?

I am. I’m a glutton for punishment. In fact, so much of a glutton I’ll be on faculty at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference this Thursday through Saturday. I’ll be teaching two workshops there, mingling with writers, talking writing, studying writing, and yes, probably even doing some writing. It’s going to be pure torture, I assure you.

Question: Have you ever attended a writers conference? Which one and was it torture or what?

(For more useful posts, please visit my other blog as well:

One-Day Fiction Workshop in the Planning Stage

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the future and what it holds. I know, it’s futile thinking because not a one of us knows what awaits around the next hour let alone week, month, or year. But I think it’s beneficial to weigh options, take inventory, and make tentative plans.

One of the things I’ve discovered over the past couple years is that despite some challenges, I love teaching writing. Love it. I’d do it full-time if I could. And I love encouraging and inspiring other writers to press on and fulfill the calling God has on their life.

So I’ve decided to start putting together very tentative plans to develop a one-day fiction writing workshop. My brainstorming has come up with some pretty cool stuff too. I’d like to make it more than educational; I’d like it to be both entertaining and inspiring as well. I want writers to walk away from this day motivated to get out there, dive into their manuscript, and finish the task, knowing they’re writing what God has put on their heart. I want them to leave with an attitude of humility realizing that what they are writing is bigger than them, bigger than any agent or editor or critique partner, that it’s part of God’s purpose for their life. And I want them to leave feeling like they’re equipped to complete the journey.

That’s a tall order, I know it is. But it’s doable . . . I know it is. I’d like to offer this workshop through local writing groups then expanding beyond that group.

More information will come as I get a better picture of what it will look like and how it will flow.

In the meantime, I could use your help in two ways:

(1) If you’re part of a local writer’s group, could you please either leave a comment or send me a private email stating where you meet (town, state) and approximately how many are in your group.

(2) If a one-day workshop of this nature interests you, please leave a comment. In this economy I know money is an issue. Tentatively, I’m thinking of keeping the pricing low, in the $40-60 range.

Is Fiction a Reflection of Real Life?

Mirrored self-misidentification

Image by eqqman via Flickr

From time to time here I’m going to be writing about things I find most thrilling and most frustrating about writing. I say from time to time because it will have to be as time allows. I’m editing Darkness Follows and working against a tight deadline for my next book and a few other projects. Time is very precious right now.

Okay, let’s start off with a frustration. Here it is: fiction does not reflect real life. In fact, more times than not, if it does it won’t sell. Fiction reflects perceived life.

In fiction we’re constantly told the reader has to care about the characters, root for the protagonist. Characters need to be consistent and there needs to be an arc of development where the protagonist matures or learns something or grows a third ear or something. We’re also told that the resolution needs to be satisfying for the reader, that there can’t be too many loose ends remaining. Loose ends are untidy. I read reviews where critics use words like “implausible,” “unbelievable,” “impossible,” and “laughable.”

Does that sound like real life to you? I don’t know about you but events in my life don’t always have a happy ending and rarely do I get answers to all my questions. I’ve found that real people are mostly inconsistent and unpredictable, even to themselves. We all do things “out of character” and wind up crawling back to the one we hurt or disappointed with apologies to offer. And as for implausible and unbelievable . . . does anything in this world surprise you anymore? Every day I hear about something I would have thought to be impossible or, at best, improbable.

I’d love to write a story that has a tragic ending, where the lead character learns nothing and is doomed to repeat his mistakes over and over again, where there are no tidy answers at the end of the day, and the storyline is totally implausible. A story that reflects real life in all its ugliness and pain. But it would never sell. Especially in the CBA. Even if it had a message of hope hidden behind all the muck and mire.

I’m not stumping for a bookstore full of depressing stories, who would want to read that? I’m only saying that the realism in fiction is more times than not life as it is perceived, not as it is lived. And by they way, I realize there are plenty of happy endings in real life, endings where the guy really does get the girl or the child really is saved from the killer, endings where victims do get answers and there is some kind of resolution. I’m aware of that. Really. In fact, I’ve lived it plenty of times. But is that all our fiction should be about?

So how about it? Do you want fiction that reflects real life, as it is lived in the trenches? Or fiction that shows life as it is perceived?

The Slump


Image by Chantilly Mom via Flickr

This past Saturday I ran a 5K, my first in over nine months. It went fairly well, better than I thought it would. I’ve been training for it for over a month, running four or five days a week, a few miles at a time. When race day came I was ready.

While I was training for this run I’ve also been working on my next book.

I’ve noticed a correlation between running a 5K and writing a book. Things start off with a bang. The starter gives the signal and all the runners jump into gear, a mass of legs and arms swinging and pounding the pavement. The same goes for writing. The first third of the book always comes easy, it flows like clear water down a mountain. Often, the story unfolds in my mind faster than my fingers can keep up with it on the keyboard. I’m in a groove, all the pistons firing in sync.

Then the second mile arrives. For me, when I run, after the first mile I hit a wall. That’s when the battle begins. I start second-guessing myself, questioning why I’m running, trying to convince myself to walk or quit altogether (can you tell I’m not a natural runner?) Writing is no different, the middle third is the toughest and slowest. I get bogged down in the plot and start wondering why I started this story in the first place. I lose my focus, get distracted, change my mind, and try to convince myself to throw in the towel.

Then the last mile arrives and I know I’m almost home. The proverbial second wind arrives, bright and smiley and, while my lungs still burn, my legs feel rejuvenated. The final push comes rather easily and the finish is in sight. I ride my high and finish strong. In the same way that last third of the book, the climax and resolution, is where my writing finds new life. I see the end ahead, the light poking through the darkness, and head straight for it without wavering or stopping for pause.

So where am I now? Right smack in the middle, the slump, the drought. I have no idea where the story is going or how I’m going to get there. I’m questioning myself and my abilities, wondering if I should have embarked on this journey, wrestling with whether to push on or send my work thus far to the scrap pile.

I’ll push on, though, and ignore the voice of pessimism, of discouragement and negativity. Writing is an exercise in perseverance, a challenge to determination. There will be light in this darkness and a story will emerge. I’m confident of that . . . or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

So how about you? If you’re a writer, do you experience a similar phenomena? What do you do to revive your writing?

If you’re not a writer, is there anything in life that puts you in a slump and challenges your perseverance? What do you do to climb out of that hole?

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