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Spring Forward and Plot Your Next Story

Spring has arrived and the sun is finally shining in Portland. While some might feel compelled to clean their house and organize their life, I felt the need to gather with friends and organize my next story.
 
So I spent this past Sunday conducting my own personal think tank with 5 wonderful friends: Susan Lute (host), Nancy Brophy, Linda Mercury, Wendy Warren and Carolyn Zane. We gathered to exchange story ideas and figure out plot points. There is power in collective creativity with people from your “tribe”. It doesn’t matter if you write the same genre. Our stories ranged from heartwarming, cozy mystery, witches, and vampires, oh my! What matters is that there is a level of trust and support among the group.
 
For the past few months, my story has been stuck in the Winter Blues. I have an idea for a paranormal young adult story and love my main characters but I couldn’t figure out the villains. This is why you need your writing buddies. When you are hesitant to give drama to your beloved characters, other writers can help you create their worst case scenarios, almost too easily and with non-concealed glee.
 
After 6 hours of exchanging ideas, the room was buzzing. I felt exhausted and excited with equal measure. Sharing your story is like sharing a secret. For the first time I had to truly explain the ins and outs of a complex story that keeps me awake at night. I spent over an hour drawing pictures and lines to connect the dots. Then I waited for the rejection. I felt like Carrie looking up to see if I was standing underneath a bucket. Instead I just felt support and suggestions from talented writers who want me to succeed. They could see a sparkle to my story and they helped me look at it from other angles.
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My only regret is that I didn’t bring a tape recorder. Not just for the notes I don’t remember but to listen to the cadence of our voices. Writers love talking about their stories and you can hear it when they speak. In fact, many writers talk about their characters like they are real people. I’m glad we were in Susan’s home because a public location would have drawn many raised eyebrows with our conversations on how best to redeem a murderous villain or why certain children needed to be orphans for everything to work out in the end.
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I left the gathering feeling three things. First, I am extremely motivated to write this story by my self-imposed October 15th deadline. Second, I also can’t wait to read their stories when completed and I will help keep them motivated. Lastly, I am lucky to have found such great writing friends.
 
If you feel energized by collective collaboration, I encourage you to find your own writing tribe and get started on organizing your own potluck plotting sessions. If you don’t know where to start and you write Happily Ever Afters, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) has local writing chapters all over the country. Writing is a solitary task but you don’t have to do it alone.
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The coffee table books of a true writer!

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Self Publishing…Everything’s Changing, But One Thing Remains The Same. Let’s Party! …by Susan Lute

Yes, I’m late with my post, but there is SO much going on, and tons running through my head. I had two meetings yesterday, Steam punk girl with Typewriter.but before I get to that, there has been a lot of conversations going on in my house. One of them is storyteller versus writer. How do you go from being a good writer to being a great storyteller? I don’t know, but I’d love to find out. Of course, for the best storytellers, it’s a gift. One they’re born with. I also think you can learn to be a great storyteller. At least that’s what I believe today. I consider J.T. Geissinger a great storyteller (if you haven’t read Edge Of Oblivion, and you love paranormal stories, you must). And J.K. Rowling. And Jessa Slade. And Nancy Brophy. I think I write a good story, but a great storyteller? Not so much. This week I made a vow to figure out how to grow beyond being a good writer and it’s spiked my enthusiasm for writing, which okay, is almost always spiked pretty high.

So, the meetings – the first one was with Maggie Jaimeson, founder of Windtree Press. Maggie is a woman with a vision. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Windtree website, take a stroll. Windtree Press is in it’s infancy right now, but one day it’s going to be the go-to place to buy good stories by Indie authors, the Sundance of Indie Books, so cleverly put by the fabulous Carolyn Zane. Which brings me to my next meeting, which was with the lovely Two Hot Mamas, Carolyn and Wendy Warren. They came to talk to Maggie, but when they were done, I got to horn in on their meeting about their current project, a romance for Entangled Publishing. Just talking series titles with these two funny ladies is a hoot and a half. I’ve wrangled them in for an interview in June. Their new book comes out in September.

Which brings me to the part about how everything’s changing. I’m looking out my office window, and the sun is out. The sky is that baby blue of a warming spring day. It’s going to be 60 plus degrees in my little mountain town. And you know what? New York isn’t the only game in town anymore. We all know it hasn’t been for a long time, but it’s getting easier and easier to be a successful writer without them. Don’t get me wrong, if St. Martin’s offered a contract today, I’d be hard pressed to turn it down, and probably wouldn’t. That’s an old dream that hasn’t died.

Here’s the thing. Technology is changing so much, and so fast, it’s hard to keep up with all the new ways to publish your own book. Today, I can write a story, polish it to perfection, upload it to Jutoh (others have their favorite manuscript converter; GMLT Cover uploadable 800x1200Jutoh is mine), make sure there are no bugs, then upload the .mobi to Amazon, the .epub to BN and abracadabra, you’re published. The process is easy, even for non-left brainers like me who have to practice the processes until they get it right.

Eighteen months ago, five intrepid friends set out to write an anthology. Twenty-four hours after uploading to Amazon, it’s published! The Girl Most Likely To, an anthology by Linda Kaye, Jessie Smith, Darla Luke, Nancy Brophy and me, Susan Lute is now available at Amazon. Here’s the thing that hasn’t changed. Seeing a book you’ve put your heart and soul into on the bookshelf, whether it’s virtual or physical, it’s the best dang feeling there is! Except for looking at your newborn baby’s face for the first time, it’s…liberating.

Now it’s time to party!

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