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April 2018


Lily and meI'm loving the idea of  taking some Mondays to spotlight what you're doing, because here's the deal: If you write, you are a writer. If you haven't published, what do you call what you do? As I mentioned last time in a quote from GLORIA, you're not just typing. Really. 

So whatever successes you're having -- whatever personal milestones you've reached -- please tell us in a comment. I'll contact you and get more particulars and then showcase you in our next Monday headlines. You can also just email me. Even small steps are steps forward. 

This week, I want to brag on LILY, who just launched a beautiful blog. Here's the link for you. She invites all artists -- both writers and visual folks -- to share in the process of creating, because none of us is alone in this. 

Although Lily's book isn't finished yet, she is its author. Every time she sits down to do yet another set of revisions (because writing really is about editing ourselves over and over ... and did I mention over?), she becomes more and more a professional. She's fine-tuned her process (remember her parallel to her approach to painting?) She's getting more and more in touch with who she is as a musician, visual artist and writer. Her growth is remarkable. And for that reason, she is already a success. LIly week 4 4(Not to mention that she is crazy-smart. Seriously.) 

Here's what I think we should all do, myself included. Let's each make a list of all the stepping stones we've landed on so far. Share your latest 5 with us. Think of it as a "Tah-Dah" list, rather than a To Do. 

Since I'm right there with you, I'll go first:

    1. Realized I'd started to wither from not writing my own creative stuff.

    2. Created a realistic plan for writing every week.

    3. Have written 100 pages of my novel since January

    4. Added 20 minutes every day to do something on the book, in addition to my Thursday writing days.  (Which are sacred, so if I don't answer a text or an email on a Thursday, that's why. I'm not ignoring you. Okay, maybe I kind of am. )

    5. Started a cash fund for a research trip to Concord, MA, in the fall. 

I haven't published a word -- except for that one short story -- but I am a writer.

So are you.



Nancy  P.S. Don't forget to tell us (or me) about your butterfly net.  



Calling All Butterfly Nets

Hannah's plot cards  Hey, fellow Writerly Women. Thanks so much for your participation in our look at Where Awesome Authors create. (Sounds like a great premise for a magazine but something close has already been done, dang it. ) As LESLIE said in her comment, she's learning to be a writer wherever she is. 

Which leads me to the fact that we're not only writing when we're sitting at our computers. GLORIA said at our retreat that "Writing isn't just typing," and she's absolutely right. When someone asks me how long it takes me to write a book, I have to give them this whole long explanation about the various parts of the writing process -- and usually I'm only halfway through it when their eyes start to glaze over. But YOU know what I'm talking about: the non-writing writing.

Basically the catching of butterflies.

Isn't that what it feels like when the dreams and ideas start fluttering around and you try to grab them but they're elusive? They won't stay in your mind long enough for you to develop them?

What every writer needs is a decent butterfly net.

Those come in various forms. HANNAH and KATE, who are writing a book(s) together, got the hang of the index card method at the retreat. One idea on each card, so you can shuffle them around until they start to look less like the pieces of Humpty Dumpty. That isn't quite working for COLLEEN, who reported that her cards seemed "dorky." Though, mind you, there is nothing even remotely dorky about Colleen, she's had to find a different net, hers being letters to her characters who are quite willing to tell her their backstories. HEIDI has her sticky notes on a bulletin board.

So today, I'm calling for all butterfly nets. Will you leave a comment telling us how you gather up the wispy ideas so they don't escape into the land of I Should Have Written That Down? If you haven't found an effective method, tell us that. Hopefully next week I can shed more light on the capturing and organizing of the tiny treasures that can become beautiful books. 

Have a great weekend. I hope you can squeeze in some writing .. in whatever form that takes.



Nancy Rue         

A Space Of Your Own

Office mess"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."  Virginia Woolf

    Hey, fellow writerly women. I don't recommend taking life lessons from Virginia Woolf (the poor thing drowned herself after a life fraught with bipolar disorder, which was untreatable at the time), but I do think she makes a very good point in her book A Room of Her Own. Any of us who have attempted to compose literature sitting at a kitchen table with children taking advantage of the opportunity to empty the snack drawer would agree with her. So will those who've tried to write in a family room with siblings watching Dr. Who at top volume or in the break room at work when fellow employees are hanging over your shoulder wanting to know, "Whatcha doing?" If you haven't screamed it, you have probably at least thought, "WILL YOU PLEASE JUST GIVE ME SOME SPACE!"

I don't have to go into WHY you need at least a corner of your own where you can create uninterrupted.  We all know what it's like to have our thoughts intruded on, not to mention our supplies, our computers, and our bodies (you know, the kid or the significant other who never wants to paw at you unless you're trying to concentrate on something other than them). The real question is HOW? Unless you have amazing support in your life, nobody is just going to "give" you space. Ya gotta take it.

Not everybody gets what you see in this picture: a whole room, with a view, where you can spread out the stuff and leave it there (I purposely used a picture in which everything is in piles so you'll know I really do work here ...)  The point is to find SOMEPLACE and make it your own. Many of you have.

JENNIFER  has found her corner. She says, "My chair moves around the room to either look out the window or sit in front of the fireplace.  I do need to get a side table so I don't have to use another chair ; but it is nice to have a place that belongs to writing. Jennifer's space Just to put this in perspective, Jennifer has three active young sons. I don't see any Tonka trucks or jars of insects in this picture, do you? Good on ya, Jennifer. 

DEBB, too, has found her spot in the bedroom she shares with her husband. She's set up a nice area for herself while she waits for one of HER three boys to get his own place so she can claim his room.  (Your time will come too, Jennifer!)  

      Deb's space

 Sometimes there just isn't space where you live to set up shop permanently, or you'd just rather work elsewhere. As you can see, ANDREA is still protesting the fact that the Barnes and Noble where she could write like a mad dog has closed. It's the couch until she can make other arrangements.  Andrea's space While it's hard to make a public place your own, some people manage quite nicely. LESLIE has made a hobby out of locating that perfect coffee shop that's conducive to getting her character to talk. Leslie's coffee shop spaceI'd like to meet her there; I mean, who can't write with leather chairs and a piano on the premises?

Whatever the possibilities are for you, I suggest some guidelines that seem to work for just about everybody.

  1.  1. Make a list of everything you typically find you need when you’re doing the work. Laptop or tablet? Legal pads? Pink gel pens? Internet? Post-it notes? Peanut M&Ms? Make it exhaustive. Don’t forget to include things that inspire you. That StarWars figurine? Your battered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird?  Leslie always has a hand-lettered bit of inspiration in front of her.
  2. Leslie's space
    2.   If you tend to be more of a mobile writer, you’ll want a way to have all your materials ready when it’s time to head for Starbucks or the front porch. Get yourself some kind of great bag with pockets, put everything from the list above in it, and leave it there until you're ready to take off to work (except your computer if you use it for other things; just have a designated slot for it.)
  3.  Now set up your office. All those things you listed under #1? They go in your space in a way that is (a) pleasing to you and (b) off limits to everyone else. No one gets to move your stuff (including you). It needs to be there when you’re ready to work. While we may think we need to channel Joanna Gaines with our decor, it's what works for you that makes it "right." DIANA likes a lot of stuff around her,  Diana's space while Debb prefers a more streamlined feel.

At some point, we all want something like what Diana has – her own she-shed which, I must add, she built herself. Nothing like setting the bar high, girl! Diana's she shed
But we can’t wait for the roll top desk and the custom book shelves and the ocean view to do the writing. It is, in fact, the growth of the writing that makes the enviable office possible. We must do what we can NOW, not only to provide a place of peace for the work but to give the work validity. If the kids, the husband, the boyfriend, the siblings, the parents, the friends see that you really are serious about this writing thing, they will begin to respect that, albeit grudgingly at first. It’s your brick and mortar way of saying, “I am a professional.”

If you want to comment – and we hope you do – tell us about your most desperate attempt to have “a room of your own.” Me? I started out at a desk in our bedroom while my 18 month old sat in the middle of our queen size bed and played with a can of buttons; I still don’t know how many she swallowed, but she loves buttons to this day.



Retreating To Ourselves

Gloria at retreat
The second annual Young Women Writers Retreat at Glen Eyrie (Colorado Springs) was A. Mazing. Twenty aspiring authors between the ages of 18 and 40 gathered for a weekend of writing, learning, crafting, laughing, crying, and sharing with vulnerability. While all the gals you see here went home with the start of a Delicious Plan, I left with my own plate full of new ideas and renewed inspiration. In fact, I almost felt guilty about taking that honorarium check. Almost. I have to support my dreaming habit somehow …

Seriously, I was nudged to –

  •  * Create new ways to help writers whose creative space has to be mobile (the Barnes and Noble, coffee shop, break room at their day job authors (kudos to Esther)
  • * Fine-tune the index card approach to plot development (thanks to Kate B. and Hannah)
  • * Practice ‘faux-ligraphy’ so I can do cool graphics (thank you, Kate P.)
  • * Do more retreats (for which I’m grateful to every woman there)

One of the most specific results was a new look at our blog. It’s barely been born and I’m already doing a makeover! But that’s the creative process, right? Here’s the new deal:

     MONDAYS – (okay, I know today’s Tuesday, but it took me a minute …) We’ll showcase your work, spotlight authors via guest posts and talk about upcoming events.

     WEDNESDAYS – our full post. Tomorrow we’ll focus on Writing Spaces, so if you have a picture of yours you still have today to email that to me.  Click here to email

     FRIDAYS – a call for what I’d love to have from you for the next week’s post

Since this is this week’s Monday (bear with me), let’s talk more about the whole retreat idea. It’s the best. A chance to find your tribe and stay connected. A way to learn writing techniques in an intensive format. Personalized mentoring. Opportunities to experiment and actually do what writers do, which is write. A chance to dream unencumbered. What writer doesn’t need that from time to time? I need that.

Other published authors sponsor retreats; I’m not the only game in town, and if you know of others, absolutely share those in a comment. If you ARE interested in the next Doorways retreat, here’s the info:

          Dates: 4:00 p.m. Friday, October 19- 2:00 p.m. Sunday, October 21, 2018

          Location: Montgomery Bell State Park, Burns, Tennessee (near Nashville). To see this gorgeous place, go to the MB website. It will be particularly stunning in the fall. (And

                                  each room in the lodge has a balcony and view of Acorn Lake. Just sayin’.)

          Cost: $500, which includes the retreat itself, two nights in the lodge and 6 meals 

          To Register: To reserve your room at the lodge for $206.56, call the front desk: (615) 797-3101 and give them our group number, which is 9102.

                                      To register for the retreat, the remaining $293.44, you’ll pay me directly via PayPal (, or by check to Nancy Rue, 201 Jenkins Road, Lebanon,

                                      TN  37087. A $50 nonrefundable deposit reserves your spot. You’ll receive a $50 discount by paying your balance by September 19, 2018. We’ll need your full


                                     Screenshot-2018-4-24 Inn at Montgomery Bell - Prices Hotel Reviews (Burns  TN) - TripAdvisor
                                 by October 1, 2018 unless you make prior arrangements with me .

          Preparation for the Retreat:

  • As soon as you register I will send a profile of sorts for you to fill out and I’ll request a 1200-word writing sample. This can be an excerpt from a larger work or a complete piece in itself.  Don’t freak out, break into hives, etc. Your feedback will be gentle, positive and full of praise and suggestions. I do not use a red pen …
  • Based on the responses to those two things, I will assess what the overall needs of the group are and determine the topics of my talks and workshops. This is all about YOU. Mysti at retreat

        What to Expect at the Retreat:

  • In terms of individual work, I will give you personal assignments to work on during the blocks of time when I meet with attendees one on one. Again, that’s based on the writing sample and the answers on the profile form.
  • The talks (that’s me doing the talking) will be on Dream Discovery and Life-Living. The workshops (that’s me guiding you through hands-on activities) will cover Story Shaping (the writing itself) and Career Crafting (the writerly life)
  • I’ll provide you with an entire packet of materials that cover even more than we’re able to get to in our sessions.
  • Here’s a tentative schedule, minus the specific topics:

            FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2018

           4:00 – 5:00                  NANCY: Welcome! Introduction to how we’ll work/Introduction to each other

            5:00-6:00                     YOU: Individual Assignment

            6:00-7:00                     US: Dinner

            7:00-8:00                     NANCY: A Dream Discovery Talk

            8:00-9:00                     YOU: Individual Assignment

         SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2018

             8:00-8:30                     Breakfast

             8:45-9:30                     NANCY: A Story-Shaping Workshop

            9:30-11:30                   YOU: Individual Assignments

                                                    NANCY: One-on-ones

            11:30-11:50                 US: sharing and Q&A

            12:00-12:50                 US: Lunch

            1:00-1:45                     NANCY: A Story-Shaping Workshop

            1:45-3:50                     YOU: Individual Assignments

                                                NANCY: One-on-ones – see schedule

            3:50-4:50                     NANCY: A Career-Crafting Workshop

            4:50-6:00                     YOU: Free time to write, ponder, rest your mind or create

                                            There will be some One-on-Ones during this time if necessary

            6:00-7:00                     US: dinner

            7:15-8:30                     US: A Life-Living Talk/Workshop

            8:30 until …                 YOU: Enjoy each other (Nancy will be sleeping!)

        SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2018 Kate P at retreat

          8:00-8:30                     Breakfast

          8:45-9:30                     NANCY: a Life-Living/Career Crafting Talk

          9:30-10:45                   YOU: Individual Assignments

                                                NANCY: One-on-ones – see schedule

          10:45-12:00                 NANCY: Final Story-Shaping Workshop

         12:00-2:00                   US: Box Lunch/ What To Do Next & the Possible Formation of an On-Going Community

That all sounds very business-like and serious and tasky, right?  While it IS thorough and we pack a great deal in, we do it all in a playful, encouraging, creative way. We will laugh (and if you don’t snort, why even laugh at all?) and cry (snorting allowed here too) and write and create crafty stuff and feel safe. We will be women writers together – and hopefully that will continue long after you leave Montgomery Bell behind.

Just writing all this makes me wish it was happening next week ...When it DOES happen, I hope many of you will join us.  In the meantime, I'm glad you're here. If you want to comment, will you tell us what group of writers supports you, nudges you, lets you dream? And if you don't have one ... well, here you are.


Retreat room  Blessings, Nancy Rue       

Writing Is LIke a Brownie ...

Office messHello, writerly girlfriends. Our community is expanding. Loved hearing from  ... ANDREA ... MEDOMFO (our youngest member) ...DIANA ... MARGIE ... SARAH ... KAREN KAY ... ERICA ... PAM... and almost a thousand others.  Thanks for sharing your dreams and yourselves. I was inspired myself by the stuff you shared, both here and via email and Facebook.

     Andrea: Writing is a way to make sense of what doesn't.

    Abigail: I am definitely too invested to give up now.

    Esther: I want the characters in my stories to experience truth in raw and bone- jarring ways.

     Another Abigail: I want a balcony where I can read my stories to the


     Diana: The problem with many dreams is that the dreaming part is easy.   Getting there can be very hard.

Perfect segue into today's post, Diana. But let me stop for a minute and give our first  DREAM REALIZED! Report. Drum roll please ...

  Diana Sharples self-published a YA novel Because ... Anonymous last week. It appeared among the top 100 best sellers in teen mysteries on Amazon. And the crowd roars! If you have a dream realized -- no matter how small the step may seem -- please let us know so we can celebrate. 

   How did she do it? I'm going to ask her to do a guest post one week soon, but for now, I know for sure she had a process. It isn't MY process. It probably isn't yours. But you can stake your laptop, your flashdrive or your first born child (0kay, maybe not that) on the fact that she employs a unique way of getting from a glimmer of an idea to that Amazon Bestseller. And she uses it every. Time.

The late, great Erma Bombeck agrees. I always loved me some Erma. Her book I Lost It All in the Post Natal Depression got me through some tough days in early motherhood. But I digress.. What she can help us with here is this quote: Erma Bombeck

"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."  

If you've tried to just sit down and write a novel or a non-fiction book, or even a short story or article, you probably experienced one of or more of the following:

        * You wrote yourself in a corner, panicked and ran screaming from your keyboard (in essence, anyway)

        * You kept going back and redoing Chapter One until it had experienced so many face lifts it started to look like Joan Rivers (God rest her soul)

        * You ended up with what two of my mentorees (separately!) call a "Franken-novel".

        * You came to me with your somewhat wrinkled dream and said, "Can you help me save this?" For which I'm incredibly grateful, by the way. 

So what is The Process? How do we get the thing under control so we can produce that work we dream of? 

Actually, I can't tell you there's just one. Your path will be unique to you. But that doesn't mean we can't get ideas from each other, so here are three that you've shared with me:

LILY, budding writer, photographer, painter, musician (AND mother of 4 -- AND a college philosophy teacher) is learning to shape her writing process to parallel the steps she takes when creating a painting: Lily's process

GLORIA takes her cue from a character in The West Wing, a 1990's TV series worth watching on NetFlix. Gloria says, "I mull. I'm a mull-er. In the show, Toby, the speech writer, has a red ball that he bounces to the floor to the wall to his hand. Pock-pock, catch. Pock-pock, catch. Other characters walk by and ask, "Aren't you supposed to be writing that speech?" Toby
He glares at them under his bushy eyebrows and growls, "I am." While I mull like Toby I gather breadcrumbs and store them away. Sometimes if an idea grows into a scene I write it through, but the scenes are in no particular order. So much copy-pasting." We'll talk about what Gloria ends up with in a minute. Think brownies ...

MONICA, who is the creator and editor of Vibrant Girls, an online magazine for girls ages 12-15,  has a more particular process:

                                       1. Brainstorming and bouncing ideas off of others. "Perhaps it is because I’m an extrovert…but I rarely come up with a solid starting idea if I’m locked inside my own head."

                                      2. Plan the steps to the finished result. "This is probably one of my favorite parts…and usually I fun it up with lots of sticky notes and charts on my office wall."

                                     3. Actual creation:  dynamic music playing in the background, pacing back and forth, going somewhere like the library (or the park if it is warm!) for a change of scenery, or "anything that will keep my brain active and my senses engaged."

                                    4. Establish a deadline. "So that  I’m working up against a clock until the last minute."

For Monica's finished product, see Vibrant Girl. You'll be impressed. Vibrant Girl

 I would be more than happy to share my whole process with you. Feel free to email me and I'll send that information to you straight away . (I think I've been watching too many British TV shows ...) For now, just take a look at that first picture above. That's what my office looks like when I'm in the middle of a project. It's messy, but it works for me. Again, let me know if you want to know more. Supplies

What I hope you'll take away from all of this is that (a) you need your own personal process that keeps you moving forward and (b) it needs to be something you love. As Julia Cameron, creativity expert and author of The Artist's Way, says, "Enjoy the process. Don't keep grading the results!"

That is the only way to get to what Gloria hopes to end up with: "My writing could be like a brownie! Pretty straight-forward when you look at it, but bite in and there's a rich and satisfying world in there that definitely changes the way you look at store bought cookies." So determine who you're going to bake those book-brownies. Let me know if I can help. And, of course, share them with us.

Next time: We'll talk about your writing SPACE. If you haven't already, please send me a photo of where you work -- even if it's a corner at Panera with your bag o'stuff next to the chair. Just attach it to an email to me

And this week's question? what is the hardest thing about making space to write? What gets between you and that place conducive to imagining and word-crafting? Your answer doesn't have to be long (though, you're writers so ...) A word will do. I'll go first: There's a lot of stuff in here!


Nancy Rue   






Having Trouble Subscribing?

ALA with Mary Good morning, my writerly women. Mary Christine Weber, graduate of the From Shadow to Shelf Program and now a successful published author, is a pro in all things social media. I, on the other hand, am not. But I think I may finally have a solution to the issues so many of you are having in subscribing to our new blog. I'm still working out the kinks (why DOES it have to be so complicated?!) but the following might be helpful to you:

  • * Anyone using Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer as her browser sees an HTML webpage which offers up subscription option, BUT if you use Google Chrome, you don't get that. (Typepad was quick to inform me that that is a limitation of the Chrome browser and not an error with the feed on the blog. Yeah, well, that doesn't help, right?)
  • *So, I'm adding the option to subscribe to the blog via email so you'll get notifications of new posts in your inbox. Doing that today.

I'm also adding some other features on my end which should make things easier for everyone. I'm telling you, I need an IT person on retainer.  Things like FeedBlitz and FeedBurner baffle me. Sounds like my cooking skills ...

  • The FOLLOW button is for Typepad subscribers to be able to view my posts in their Typepad Dashboard, but with the changes I'm making, you won't have to subscribe to Typepad if you're not already a subscriber.

I've tried to make this simpler than the feedback the Typepad folks sent me. Seriously, does this make sense to you?  

When you click the "Subscribe" link to view your blog's feed directly in your browser, you may see the code for the feed as a feed is not meant to be viewed in a browser. Instead, you would copy the feed URL and subscribe to the feed in your preferred feed reader, like Bloglovin' or Feedly.

I'm sorry -- the what now? I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: Surely Jane Austen didn't have problems like this! 

Jane Austen
I'll publish our weekly post tomorrow -- and hopefully you'll be able to comment and participate and help us build this community -- in spite of my woefully limited social media skills. Mary Weber used to say to me in emails. "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.." Yeah. Exactly!



Nancy Rue