The MO in NaNoWriMo

Orchard Houser Hey Writerly Women. Okay, so I know that NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and I do love that we have our own official month.  Why would we not? It is an honorable and complex thing we do, we novelists. Observing it by writing umpty-ump thousand words IN that month isn't what I'M choosing to do, but I AM observing it nonetheless by deciding that the MO stands for MOTIVATION. 

So in this Month of Novel Writing, let's consider two things about the MO.

ONE ..

WHAT is it motivating you to do?

HEIDI is turning an old short story into a novella. 

    After receiving a handful of rejections from agents, LILY is going back to her novel and reworking it with the advice of an expert in her genre.

    LESLIE has created a vision board and is breaking her dream writing career into objectives just as she did when she was teaching.

Me? I too have created a new vision board and I'm writing two full days a week now instead of one, as well as at least 30 minutes on the other days. So thanks, National Novel Writing Month. Good on ya. 

Vision board TWO ...

 November will be over in two weeks. What will KEEP us motivated after that? That really is the difference between writers who start and writers who finish. Writers who publish and writers who don't.  One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth George, says the ones with the most "butt glue" win. Charming as that sounds, she's right. Whoever sticks to the chair, fingers on the keyboard, gets it done. And that isn't about inspiration, which initially gets you going, but motivation, which keeps you going.

And let's not even call it discipline. That sounds like schedules, which we can all easily ignore, and rewards, which are self-administered and we can give ourselves whether we do the work or not so who are kidding?

Motivation is an inside thing that sounds something like this:

    * I have to write the book that shows women they need to love not from lack but from the fullness of themselves.

Mj writing*  I can't not write a novel that demonstrates that there's more than what we see.

  • If I don't write this story of the role a single human being can play in the defeat of racism, I won't have fulfilled my purpose.


What's your MO? Is it deep enough for you to stay up 'til midnight writing because that's when it's quiet? Big enough to make you pass up binge watching the next season of The Crown? Loud enough to drown out Facebook and YouTube? Fine enough to be worthy of a whole year of you? 

We would love to hear it. We need to hear it. It will motivate all of us.



Nancy Rue                                           

NaNoWriMo YOUR Way

Louisa's deskHey, Writerly Women -- and a good November to you. Among fiction writers - and maybe nonfiction too -- this month has become as much about NaNoWriMo as it has about turkeys and football and giving thanks. It only makes sense to spend this four weeks here on Doorways talking about what the 'write a bazillion words in 30 days' challenge can do -- and not do -- for writers. 

Odd as it may seem, let's start with an author who did so much for us as female writers beginning back in the Nineteenth Century - the brilliant Louisa May Alcott. 

She would have approved of NaNoWriMo, although for her it was more MayJuJulWriMo. Sitting at that widened curve in the woodwork where you see the vase of greens, (just to the left of the window) which her father fashioned for her as a desk, Louisa sat down for 14 hours a day from May until the middle of July and wrote the inimitable Little Women. Louisa-May-Alcott-145890283x1-56aa250a5f9b58b7d000fc52

Six. Weeks. 

Mind you, Louisa was living with her parents who were depending on her to write to support them. They basically said, "Go to your room and write!"  Also, she was writing an idealized version of her childhood so the story was in essence writing itself. So, yes, to sit down and get those words down in a rush was absolutely what Louisa needed to do. 

NaNoWriMo was for her.

But is it for everyone?

Is it for COLLEEN, who has spent months with me shaping characters and a wonderful outline? Should she then just throw down words she's going to have to go back and rewrite? 

Is it for DAWN, who is writing the last five chapters of the draft of her novel? Does it make sense for her to get channel fever and crank out those chapters?

And how about LILY, who's starting the first draft of the second book in her series? She tends to be a pantser going in, so why not, maybe?

I know that for me, the quintessential planner, NNWM would make me a crazier person than I already am (which is a very scary thought, right?) Writing at Walden POndI go to Walden Pond, absorb, make notes, come back and weave those into my outline, write the draft, revise the draft. So, uh, no, no 30 days of full out pouring it out. That does NOT mean it doesn't work for someone else.

What I see here is a great opportunity for each of us to --

    * define and fine-tune our process

   * set up our OWN challenges, deciding whether the ones presented to us suit our writing personalities

So what if in this month of November I present various possibilities and invite you to share yours? How does that sound?

If you want to comment, tell us if you're participating in NaNoWriMo and why or why not. No judgement. Just what works for you -- because as always, this is for you.



Poison Pen?

Depression BOHO ScotiaToday's post comes from the very gifted fantasy writer known to us as "Skeli". What she has to say on this month's topic of "how deep and dark do we go?" takes us, well, deep. It challenges, and yet it reassures. Isn't that what we want to do for our readers? Writerly women, I give you Skeli ...  


Poison Pen?

How far is too far for the Christian when it comes to writing about evil?

Where does evil come from?  Is it transmitted by mere knowledge of it?  If you look at it, does it get inside you like the scrawling of the Fisher King in Dr. Who, making you a target? 

Christ said that what makes a person evil isn’t what goes into him, but what comes out.

But our writing comes out of us.  How do we keep it from being evil?

We need to take a look at our identity and what we allow to stand within us. 

It isn’t by our own efforts that we shine.  This little light of mine is merely a reflection.  I don’t generate it.  It comes from the Great Source.  If I keep my mirror clean, I reflect it well.  That means washing off the mud of my adventures from time to time, sometimes with tears. Bath Skeli

So how do we do that? The best defense we have is God and each other. We need to ask ourselves: do we savour the dark, or do we have a more utilitarian handle on it for the purpose of illustrating the truth?

Tell it like it is, but always ask yourself why am I telling it this way, this much, this dark.  Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Do a gut check.  And run it past mature peers, those who have walked in the dark before you.  Nothing like a fellowship to help out on a quest.

But do we add to the stock of evil in the universe when we write?  Or is evil simply a fact of this reality, like gravity, that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with?   Answer to critic

The Bible calls us to be witnesses, to give a true account of what we see.  Perhaps this applies to evil as well.

 It is not enough to merely “hold my attention” as Margaret Atwood put it.  We as Christian artists have an obligation to work out what we think the truth is and put it out there as honestly and clearly as we can.

If one is going to engage this world with authentic writing, one cannot be shy about telling it like it is.  This is being a good witness. We are people of truth.  We take in shards and output perspective.

But what about the power of evil? Do we sub-creators, as Tolkien phrased it, have that kind of wattage, to add to the sum of darkness in this world? We might.

Any act of creation is kind of magical.  We set forth our intent, bring out our crafted thing, something that did not exist in the universe before, and release it like a dove (or a Fender-wielding punk rocker, depending) to our audiences.  From there it takes on a journey of its own, and we no longer have a say.  That journey can last centuries.  Ever read anything by Shakespeare?  Hammurabi?  The Sufi poets?

The problem is not all truth is pretty, and some of it is downright horrifying.  Are we going to get it on us?  

There is risk here.

Evil is very good at masquerading as cool and powerful.  Strip away the Hollywood, though, light up the consequences, the fallout, and there is nothing pretty about evil, nothing cool, nothing fun.  Death Eats Dessert
It is the grand masquerade.  It is our job to pull away that mask. We can’t do that if we soften up the truth. If one doesn’t have the stomach to tell it like it is, perhaps one should write about something else, or risk not honouring the truth.

There is also a question of quality.  As Madeleine L’Engle put it, bad art is bad religion.  We have an obligation to quality in what we create. A poorly told tale does not reveal truth very well.  

So then, it becomes a contest between authenticity and gratuitous immersion.

We are warriors going into the misty dark.  What we do there matters.  Be shallow, and those who most need what we offer will toss it aside as untrue.  Muck in too deep and we risk being swallowed by evil’s siren song ourselves.  The stakes are high.  This is not a game for cowards.

But we go into the dark with love and light, and we don’t go alone. 

Light vs. darkness 2Unsheathe your shining blades in the dark.  Stick close to your peeps, feast on the Word, and honour the truth.  Unmask as many wyrms as you can.  Slay them all.

I don’t think that’s going too far.



Amen, Skeli, Amen. If you want to leave a comment, tell us, on a scale of one to five -- 1 being "I don't even want to go there at all" and 5 being, " I think I have to get to the rock bottom" -- how far YOU need to go into the dark in your writing in order to answer the call that whispers to you.



Nancy Rue 

"We have to go straight to the devil!"

With MarjorieAh, Writerly Women. On the very first morning of my amazing trip to Concord, Massachusetts, (which you'll be hearing about, probably ad nauseam, in the weeks to come) I met a marvelous fellow writer named Marjorie Meret-Carmen. She is the founder of a small publishing company, Moonglade Press, which is publishing 'new works by uncommon voices.' Her current project, as she faces her eighth decade in this life, is a historical fiction saga entitled Perceptions involving Henry David Thoreau. I won't tell you more, except to say that it promises to be very real.

In one of our all too short but intense conversations I told the Marvelous Marjorie about our blog and this month's topic and asked her our question: how do you handle going deep? She didn't even hesitate before answering. 

"Oh, you have to go straight to the devil! "

She laughed, something she has apparently done often and well in her years of full-out living, but she quickly grew serious and continued:

"To write about good and evil in these times, you have to be very imaginative. You have to show how frightening it is."

We do indeed have to show our readers evil in its reality. Nekkid, as we say here in the South. Not the spooky Halloween version that gets packed away on November 1st, but the truth of the thing. As we discussed in our last post, we can't gloss over  the grit of sex trafficking or paint a romantic picture of the ugly face of war or soft pedal the rock bottom crash of depression. If we aren't going to tell the truth, why bother to write about it at all?

The question is, how do we know we're doing that? As always, I can speak best from my own experience, and here's what I've found:

*    I write about the darkness I've seen myself. Until the miracle of medication and a gifted therapist and ongoing inner work with God, I used to suffer bouts of clinical depression. I know the tunnel of anxiety and hopelessness you can't find your way out of, and I called upon that in writing about Sullivan Crisp and his clients in the Healing Stones, Healing Waters, Healing Sands novels. I'm no stranger to an eating disorder, which inspired me to write the YA novel When Is Perfect Perfect Enough?  Many of my characters have endured the loss of loved ones because I had to grieve the death of my brother and father at a young age. It's not a matter of exploiting your emotional life in a calculated way - it's more a way to say, "I've been there ... I know what it's like ... you're not alone." And sometimes, only a person who has felt the anguish can write it. 

*  I know I'm getting it right when can feel it viscerally.  Here's an example. In Healing Stones, therapist Sullivan Crisp is on his own agonizing inner journey, and at one point he experiences a panic attack. I wrote, rewrote and revised that scene so many times and still couldn't quite get it there. The scene takes place in a car going over a bridge, and Sullivan comes very close to driving his vehicle off the side, just as his wife did twenty years before. I obviously wasn't going to get into my Volkswagen and reenact that, but I did go down to the water's edge (I live on a lake) and envision the scene as Sully in slo-mo until the pain he'd stuffed through all his efforts to heal everyone else finally erupted. I went back to the keyboard and wrote -- chest aching, palms sweating, fingers trembling so that it was difficult to type. When Sully pulled his car over to the side of the road at the bottom of the bridge and rolled down his window to talk to the concerned officer who' followed him, both of us were surprised he could even speak. That's when you know you've gone deep enough.     

I think it's the motive that guides us. If we want to go deep and dark just for the sake of it, just to be considered serious writers, we'll be about as deep as the nearest puddle. While I was in Concord last week (I told you this would come up again!) I visited The Old Manse, which is the house Nathaniel Hawthorne and his bride Sophia Peabody rented for the first three years of their marriage. Nathaniel had  written a few short pieces but he wasn't well known yet, and he was using his time there at the Manse to find himself as a writer. He sat at this desk (see photo at right), facing the wall, and, it is said, thought and wrote serious thoughts. Hawthorne's desk Are we surprised he didn't come up with much? It's probably a good thing he and Sophie were kicked out for not paying their rent and had to move back to Salem and live in the House of the Seven Gables or we wouldn't have the book by the same name, or the Scarlet Letter ... but I digress.   

Writing deep is first about having conviction and being committed to the truth no matter where it takes us. I don't think we can be afraid to go there. Especially if we're not just doing it to be darker, grosser or sexier than the last freak-out novel that was written. We're not talking about sensationalism. We're talking about real. And aren't we always?

In next week's post we'll talk about what happens after we dig deep, get dark -- 'go straight to the devil' -- which is something GLORIA brought up in her comment in case you want to check that out. If YOU want to comment -- and I hope you do -- will you tell us why you think we write about the tougher side of life?

Two more things:

GLORIA  has "a small milestone to report":     




After, like, a year of knowing it's something I need to do, I finally started a social media presence on Twitter!!!

I had downloaded the Twitter app after deciding that it would be my Writing Social Media Of Choice... then didn't touch it for three weeks. XD  So yesterday when I was with my writing group, I announced that I would like them all to walk me through setting up an account.  It was so much easier and so much more fun when I had them all watching and saying 'yes, that's good' 'now you push that button' 'it looks great' 'just push the button' 'I'm telling all my followers that you're on Twitter'.

So yay!!!

Here's to the little steps forward!

I would also love to have your prayers for this weekend when for the first time I'm hosting a two-day Intensive here at my home for three clients who are coming together to immerse themselves in all things writerly. There WILL be pictures in next week's post! 





How Low Should We Go?

Girl in the mirror 3Favorite Client Quote of the Week

"If I don't answer when you Skype, I might be locked in a trunk."

            - Natasha

It gets that real, doesn't it? Which brings me to our October topic, suggested by one of you. 

How do we balance the need to portray our villains realistically with the need to be sensitive to our audiences?  You know, how dark is too dark? Is there such a thing if a story needs to be told?

Before you brush that off as a dilemma faced only by the writers of fantasy and thrillers and crime novels, hear me out, because it's an issue I think we all deal with on some level if we want to write real.

Case in point. When I was proposing the novel Antonia's Choice to a Christian publisher, about a woman who discovers that her five-year-old son has been the victim of pornography, the acquisitions editor asked me, "Will it be palatable?" My reply: "What about this issue IS palatable? If what I write goes down easy, I'm not doing my job."

That doesn't mean I wrote graphic descriptions of the photos. Nobody needs to read that. But I was very explicit about the pain the little boy and and his family went through because people DO need to be aware of that or nothing is done to change the frighteningly pervasive situation. 

So, yes, there's much to think about on this topic. Some writerly questions to ponder:

  • How deep is deep enough before it becomes unnecessarily scary?
  • How dark is too dark, where there's just no light?
  • How dangerous is too frightening until it allows for no rescue?
  • How decadent is too salacious and becomes too 'only for its own sake'? 
  • What do we have to employ to strike the balance?

This is heavy stuff, so just to lighten things up a a little, some celebration is called for:


 *         KAREN finished her first draft. BIG accomplishment!!!!

  • SKELI launched her blog, Skeli's Closet, which you totally need to check out.
  • LILY is submitting This Is Love to agents. Big, scary step.
  • SUSAN has completed her final draft. HUGE deal.
  • SCOTIA has been invited to by-pass the agent piece and submit her non-fiction proposal directly to a publisher
  • HEIDI is dipping her toe into the fiction world -- who knew?
  • AMY has discovered she's actually a poet, and a fine one.
  • PAM HALTER'S first novel FairyEater  will be released by Love2ReadLove 2Write Publishing on October 22. See the cover here , but I'll do a big ol' spread for Pammy on release week. This is SERIOUSLY ginormous.

It happens - because we take those risks. Let's do it together. 



Nancy Rue       

We Have Met Our Audience ... And She Is Us

With Gloria


Favorite Client Quote of the Week:

Me: What's your writing goal for this week?

Skeli: The acquisition of a dwarven-made sword


I have to admit, my writerly women, those words have never crossed my lips. But SKELI can say that because she knows her audience. To quote her further:

Nerds are a fascinating tribe. Nothing like a ComicCon for rubbing shoulders with my audience...everyone from cosplayers to comic artists. It is where fantasy readers flock as well. There is such a fluid relationship to identity there. Preferences may be judged (or spawn a lively debate; why or why didn't the LOTR movies blow chunks?) but people rarely are.

You see why I love Skeli's writing as much as I love her nickname. And her.

GLORIA (shown at left) is still trying to get her typical audience member into focus:

I've been thinking a lot about who my audience is and I know I have a picture. I have a person standing before me, but she's blurry. Out of focus. I tried writing down who she was and got stuck after 'Girl in her teens, hair pulled back into a simple ponytail. She’s scared of the dark because that’s when her mind refuses to shut off with the light'. I guess she's a mix of myself in my early teens and the girls I've gotten to know in my writing circles and church. Even so, there's something still hidden about her.


What strikes me in both of these is that SKELI and GLORIA recognize their audiences are, well, in part themselves. That's huge, because if we stand too far from the people we're writing for, we can come across as:

  •  condescending
  • preachy
  • been-there-done-that and now I know it all
  • patronizing
  • out of touch

Of COURSE we write from the wisdom we've gained or we'd just be one hot mess talking to a bunch of other hot messes, right? But if we've never been stupid, our wisdom isn't going to make for an authentic story.

Let me see if I can sort that out using some of my own books as examples. I hope that doesn't come across as narcissistic, but it's what I know for sure.

  • I didn't have to be overweight to write Healing Waters, but I HAD struggled with an eating disorder and the underlying issues of not-enough-ness
  • I'd never ridden a Harley (although I did try) or taken in prostitutes to write The Reluctant Prophet Trilogy, but I had wrestled with what it really means to be a Christian and how the institution (in my case, the Christian publishing world) can challenge your faith
  • I have an awesome husband and my daughter never ran away, so I wasn't writing from that kind of personal experience when I penned Tristan's Gap, nor did I have a domineering father, but I did have an exceptionally protective mother from whom I had to painfully break free, and it was that emotional journey I used in creating that novel, for all women who need to know they can make their own decisions and be independent even in relationships.

In every case, I had to know my audience, and in essence my audience was women like me who needed to hear the message I myself had to hear and apply at some point in my life. You can see how that changes slightly with each thing you write, yes?

As we end our September month of finding that audience member who perches on the edge of the screen or hangs out at the side of the desk, sipping a latte as we write, maybe we should see her (or him) as partially a reflection in our mirror. Asher mirrorFor me that would be that side of myself who thought she had it all together and just needed to check in with God now and then to see how I was doing. Perhaps writing my current books is a reminder that she can't live here anymore ...

If you want to comment, and of course I hope you do, will you tell us how your audience has a bit of you in her? If you're going to hang out with her in the writing of an entire novel -- or even a series -- or perhaps the season of a short story -- it might be good to find out what you two have in common. 


Also, I'm considering what our theme will be for October. Anything YOU would like to know more about when it comes to being a writerly woman? 



Nancy Rue   

Do You Hang Out With Your People?

Crazy group without Estherr



"My dog ate my plot skeleton."


Hey, Writerly Women! When I pose that question, I'm not asking about the ACTUAL people you binge watch re-runs of Gilmore Girls with. We're not referring  to your Tribe -- your peeps -- your besties. (If any or all of those terms are completely passe', please don't tell me).

I'm talking about your audience, the people you're writing for. And here's why I'm asking.

I used to write almost totally for girls 8 to 12, so I was often invited to teach workshops at writer's conferences on how to build stories for kids that age. Loved it and met some amazingly talented writers. But there was always at least one aspiring author who, when I asked the group question, how much time do you spend with kids, looked at me as if I had asked, "How often do you deliberately eat E. coli-infested food?"

That never failed to baffle me. A.A. Milne and C.S. Lewis notwithstanding (both claimed to have very little to do with children), it's fairly impossible to write successfully for kids when you don't LIKE them -- and it IS impossible if you never spend any time with them.

On the other hand, we have COLLEEN, who even in her 6o's is writing a very real, very funny, very rip-your-heart-right-the-heck-out series of books for this very specific target audience: Boy 2

That kid between 9-13 who many won’t notice or give a nickel for, but is off-the-charts notable and worth a million bucks. He’s ever more aware of himself, yet at the same time, the world around him begins to make a huge impact on his value system and conduct. He has a sense of what’s right, but might not be totally sure what that is or how to make it happen should he discover it. He’s extraordinary and has untapped potential, but is clueless of that truth.

 How does Colleen know this stuff? She worked with kids this age until VERY recently. She now has grandsons and actually plays with them. No head-patting and cheek-pinching for this lady. Totally out of the blue the other day she emailed me and said, "I love fifth grade boys." Beyond the fact that someone should check her for dementia, that's why her books are going to rock and they're going to sell.

Obviously this concept doesn't apply just to writing for middle graders.

If your audience is YA, are you hanging with teenagers -- or do you break into a sweat at the thought of all those hormones?

If you're into the New Adult scene, are you spending some time in coffee shops with the generation who is angry about the current state of affairs that's left them jobless after four years of college -- or are you writing about the way you think things should be for them?

If your target is that fantasy lover, are you in the world of fairy, elf and wizard lovers -- or just tucked away in your own world?


If we don't do that, here's what happens:

    * Our writing sounds condescending and patronizing, especially when we bring in the mentor, the pastor or the wise father who straightens that character out.

   * It never comes across as authentic.

   * We miss some really great opportunities for plot twists and conflicts.

   * The audience we're writing for gets about a chapter in, if that far, gives that derisive smirk, and thinks -- or, the good Lord forbid -- says out loud -- or, worse -- writes in an Amazon review, "This writer is completely out of touch with the people she's writing about." 

I have to confess that I'm actually right there at this point. The women I typically spend time with are wise, God-centered and in touch with their true selves or they're living into that daily. (Women like you.) The woman I'm writing for?

Business womanWhile she is intelligent, gifted and successful, she has little sense of the Divine. Perhaps she’s had no religious upbringing at all, or what she’s had was lackluster. Or Jesus was crammed down her throat so that she ran from all things Christian at the earliest opportunity. She may even have had an abusive experience of some kind in the Church. She didn’t even have to be Christian growing up. She may have been Jewish or Muslim or Native American and had one of those four kinds of backgrounds. In any case, she was in no way reaching out to God.  God is there, waiting, whispering. She may have heard without knowing and made some good moves in her life. Maybe she does have a decent relationship with someone and feels she’s a good mother. It could be she’s influenced her community in positive ways. Ah, but there could be so much more, and somehow she knows it.

(Disclaimer: I chose this photo at random from the internet. I have no idea if this profile fits her. She just looks like one of my characters)  Do I have any women in my life like that at this juncture? Do we meet for coffee? Text each other? Reach out when we're in crisis? Um ... no.

If the four books I'm writing are going to be real, I need to get out more. Find out what her life looks like, rather than assume I know.

And that, my Writerly Women, is what we all need to do.

If you want make a quick comment today, will you tell us if you hang with your audience? And if not, do you have any ideas for how you can?  I'm not even sure I know yet. I just know I want to honor ALL my sisters.



Nancy Rue






Getting a Visual

Loretta's audienceHey, Writerly Women. We've been talking this month about the importance -- okay, the essentiality -- if that isn't a word, it ought to be because we need something stronger than "necessity",  which applies more to things like having enough coffee and toilet paper -- of knowing exactly who you're writing your novel for. We need to know that exact person, the precise reader.

We need to be able to SEE her. Or him.

And why not? We're writers. We imagine people all the time and try to get readers to believe they're real. Only ...  these folks who are going to read our stories ARE real. We simply have to have a visual of who they are, right down to the individuals.

Client (and dear friend) Loretta has allowed me to share hers --     

As I wrote Sainthood, I imagined my readers this way:

Four people sit on a rock in the mountains, contemplating the meaning of their lives and where they are headed.

A sixty-year-old- man with a tailored white beard listens to the calls of the wildlife while watching the waves lap along the shores of the mountain lake. His life is much further along than he recognized, and he now contemplates what he will be remembered for.

 At the same time, a forty-year-old mother sits on a nearby rock holding close the breathtaking views while considering what it took for her to enjoy this escape.

Next to her is a twenty-two-year-old man who is just starting his life that so far has only been measured by completing tests and conquering job applications. He wonders where he is headed and seeks authenticity in those around him.

 The last man, a forty-five-year old priest dressed in jeans has rushed here seeking a last-minute reprieve from his parishioners who demand all his time and energy. He wishes to experience God in the quietness and beauty of creation, away from crowds and anyone who is in need of spiritual guidance…so he can regroup and find his own path again.

I don't know about you, but I can almost smell these people. That's because Loretta describes her audience the way she portrays her characters. That's how vividly we need to picture them too.

We need to be imaginal about our audience.

Another among us here is still figuring out that one reader. So far, she has the general idea:

My ideal readers are women , but I would be thrilled if men read my book too. I want to reach people that have tried to bury their pain and think that success and wealth is all they need, just like my protagonist. I long to see families reconciled after years of hurt, misunderstandings and dysfunction. And I also want to reach readers that can identify with my strong female character. Women who have suffered great loss and are afraid to love again.

She's getting there, right? But in terms of imagining a reader perched on her desk as she writes, it's going to get fairly crowded. Instead of serving her reader a latte, she's going to have to open a coffee shop.

HELP A FELLOW WRITERLY WOMAN OUT: If you were writing to your fellow writer's audience, which one of that group of hurting people would you choose to focus on. How would you describe him or her in about five sentences, being as specific as you can? 

Since I can't resist, here's mine:  She sits in the bay window while her mother in law bustles into the kitchen to freshen up her tea. Thank the Lord the usual selection of self-help books is missing from the window seat. The woman has finally gotten the message that there are no Five Steps to Recovery from Whatever Blocks Your Happiness, at least not for her. Margie's audienceBut as she leans back to try to ease that familiar dull ache that has no end, she feels something hard behind her and pulls out a book -- of course.  This, however, appears to be a novel, and a fan of the pages brings her to a line that actually makes her pause in mid-ache. Are you serious? Does somebody actually get what this feels like?I took it with me.

Let's see what you've got. Or share your own. Be imaginal. I don't know if that's a word, either, but who's checking?



Nancy Rue