Shall We Begin Again?

With megan at BoniHello, my fellow writerly women. It has been a VERY long time since I've checked in with you, and while I'll fill you in on why that is over the next several weeks (because it shines light on all of us as female authors), for now let's just say it has not been for lack of thinking about you. You've been scurrying around in my thoughts, and I've almost been able to hear the clacking of your keyboards and the whirring of your ideas -- as well as the squeal of your victories and the moans of what feel like setbacks.

And now I'd love to hear all of that for real ...

 The Reader's Digest version: I'm discovering a new rhythm for my life, which has included retiring from one-on-one mentoring (a tough decision, to be sure), focusing on healing and recovery from some challenges, both physical and at a soul level and reviving my own writing. All of it centers around a renewed consciousness of and connection with God in some ways that weren't familiar to me before. An important part of this fresh season's beat will, I hope, be our blog community.

Besides ... I've missed you, so there's that.

What I intend for us to shape here is different from what we were doing before. Okay, yeah, I'm a seasoned writing mentor and teacher and I've written a bunch of books, so now and then I have something to offer that you haven't heard (0r you've just forgotten). But there are SO many writing blogs, it's makes you wonder if everyone on the planet is in some stage of writing a book. Seriously.What could I possibly add? And who has time to keep up with all of them and still, well, write?

What I feel we can do here that's NOT that, could be this:

    * discussions of what we REALLY want to write, what's burning in us ... even if it isn't what "they" are contracting for (Who the Sam Hill are "They" anyway?)

    * ways to FREE our creativity that goes outside writing itself and then brings us back to it

    * developing our OWN Rule of the Writing Life, each of us individually, so that we can tell stories with integrity and authenticity -- and with creative discipline that doesn't feel like a regimen (because it shouldn't)

    * discovering what doesn't work for US, even if it's conventional wisdom for a lot of people

    * a sharing of our frustrations, what we're learning that's letting our work flow  -- and our causes for celebration

Here's the deal with that last one. I'm right where many of you are -- just starting. The many books I wrote in the Christian publishing world notwithstanding, I am a newbie because I've never attempted to write in the general market before. The feedback from the week-long Donald Maass Novel Intensive in September Donald-Maass-1-A
was both encouraging and challenging. (Fellow writer Megan, pictured above, shared that experience -- total blast!). I'm venturing into new soul territory on the page as well. It really does feel like beginning again, and I crave company along the way. 

I would love that company to be you.

So, if you're in, let us know via a comment. And maybe include your writing intention for this year? What challenge are you going to confront? What new waters are you planning to dip a toe into? And maybe most important of all, what are you trying to let go of?

Me? I'm letting go of busyness. Space and margins await! 


Nancy Rue           



APRIL 17-19



I'll provide the link as soon as it's available.

Even goofier YWW 2019


Plan My Release Party? NOW?

Celebrate Writerly Women,

I can almost hear you saying it: "Aren't you the one who's always telling us not to get ahead of ourselves? 'Don't worry about how you're going to promote your book when you haven't even written it yet.' So - what's with this blog post?"

I'm not talking about THAT kind of release party, silly. Yeah, it's fun to dream about hosting a big soiree the day your book comes out, starring you in a character themed outfit and featuring a catered spread, all of which will be captured by the local, statewide and national media. I'm not sure anybody does that except maybe the promoters of Harry Potter. I'm not even talking about a Facebook party -- which I have never really understood; where does the food come in? -- or an intimate dinner with your thirty-five closest friends.

In fact, I'm not even referring to the release of your BOOK when (not if) the day it hits the bookstores and Amazon. Where I'm going here is -- the release, the letting go of whatever is holding you back from ever reaching that day in the first place. 

You know the things. We've talked about them before, but here's a review list. Any of these make you gulp and get that hangdog look thing going on?

    * Blame: your significant other's lack of support, your kids or friends interrupting, your boss stealing your creative energy, your parents not raising you the way a child of your exceptional talent should have been brought up ...

    * Anger: at the publishing world for being so competitive, so picky, so unable to recognize real talent when they see it; at any of the people you're blaming, at Donald Trump for being President ... Angry

    * Fear: of failure, of succeeding, of making a fool of yourself, of finding out you don't have what it takes, of finding out you do and having to do it all over again

    * Avoidance: of admitting that any of the above is true, of the deep hurts you know will come up as you write, of the conflicts that arise in yourself every time you even think about it

    * Projection: the everybody-thinks-I'm-weird-when-I-write thinking, which is really your OWN thinking

    * Denial: of your talent, of the Call, of the doubts

    * The Urge to Pretend: that it doesn't matter to you as much as it does

We could all add our own items to that list of the things that keep us from FINISHING THE DADGUM PROJECT! The point is that we all have to face this truth if we ARE going to finish -- or even start well:

There really are no valid excuses. We either write ... or we don't.

Which leaves us where, exactly?

It leaves us staring at our personal Resistance Rebels and letting them go.

Not fighting them. Not shouting at them. Not engaging them in debate. Not even having an imaginary battle in which you run them through with your version of Ex Caliber. 

Just letting them off scot free to take their Great Rebellion elsewhere. Just putting a stop to the struggling, the wrestling, the soul searching. Just giving them a release party and then getting on with the business at hand.

And we do this how? I promise you I'm not going to burst into a rendition of "Let It Go." I swear it. Let it Go

But I am going to offer a simple plan for your release party. Simple -- though not necessarily easy -- and completely doable.

    Step One -- ACCEPT. Own up to the fact that your resistance is YOUR responsibility. Nobody can really keep you from writing. They even let convicted felons in prison write. And not only that -- accept that God gets it and still wants you to carry on with the gift you've been given. No matter how much you've neglected it in the past.

    Step Two -- PAY ATTENTION. Before you can send the Rebels on their way, you have to know how they operate in you. To use an often-OVER-used term, be mindful of the ways they convince you to resist the pad and pen, the keyboard, the laptop. Know their game and laugh and let them go the way you would a bunch of fourth-grade boys who think they can outsmart a bunch of fourth-grade girls (Girls always being the smarter sex, yes?) Choosing the top three from the above list is a good place to start.

    Step Three -- BE ENCOURAGED. I know it seems like we can get DIScouraged all by ourselves but being ENcouraged takes the input of someone else. Not so. Darlin', you know you have talent or you wouldn't even be reading this blog. You know God wants the best for you and the gifts God's woven into the very fiber of your being. You know what it feels like when the dialogue sings or the plot falls into place or the description gives you a chill up and down your arms. Sure, you can outsource encouragement, and we all need that too. But seriously, woman? Just BE ENCOURAGED by what you already know to be true. You've got this

 Step Four -- FOCUS ON THE FACT THAT YOU ARE. Not that you're a writer, that you're a storyteller or a poet or a brilliant spinner of non-fiction prose -- but just that you are here, period. You are all of the youness. And as you, purely and simply being, there is no room for debilitating doubt and trumped up reasons to procrastinate and paralyzing fear that you'll just be wasting your time. You can't deny that you ARE, you can't put off BEING, your can't squander the fact of your EXISTENCE as you. Get down to your soul and feel that peace.

 Step Five -- CELEBRATE. Party like it's 2019 (that doesn't work as well as the old song, "Party Like It's 1999" but you get it, right?) Have yourself an actual "I AM LETTING GO" soiree for just you and God and your gift and what you've written so far.

I actually did that when I was in Concord, Massachusetts, last month, researching and writing and rediscovering myself as a writer. I sat in the bay window of Caffe Nero in a wingback chair reminiscent of the Emerson/Thoreau era and I sipped the best soy latte on the planet and raised a toast to the printed-out, spiralbound manuscript of  Mandatory Sentence so far. Caffe Nero
I released us from the constraints of too much other work to do, of making money just in case, of the ridiculous notion that I might be done, of the very real possibility that I won't be published again. And then I thanked God. And then I just. Was. 

I'm pretending you're all my clients and I'm giving you an assignment: Identify exactly what you need to release back into the wild and give yourself a party for the sole person of opening the cages and letting them go. Include all the things a party needs -- food, drink, decorations, a theme. The only guests will be you, God and that manuscript that is begging you to give it as much attention as you've been doling out to those rebels who've never done a positive thing for you. 

Then report in! Who knows? Maybe we'll have a party right here ...

If you need a little more of a boost, here's what I recommend on this week's Book Shelf:

Non-Fiction:     Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert   The most most encouraging and reassuring book on creativity I've read in years.                                         Really.

Fiction:                 Elinor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman   This is her first novel, and it shows that she refused to let                                             the Rebels bar her way. Trust me.

Narrative Non-Fiction: The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines    You don't have to be a Fixer Upper fan to be inspired by                                         the story of these two people who know how to let go and let the dreams flow. 





Nancy Rue                 


When the Paradigm Shifts

Doorway to HauteHey, my Writerly Women! I've just returned from heaven ... well, Concord, Massachusetts, where I spent a week ... wait for it ... researching for my novel, writing, writing, writing (and did I mention writing?) and taking a close look at where I am as writer and woman, and where I want to be. I made the trip solo, and although I missed my family (and all of you), I savored the solitude, the lack of obligation, the time and space to discover all kinds of things.

I try to snap pictures of doorways wherever I go (for obvious reasons), and this one is the entrance to one of my two favorite coffee shops in Concord -- The Haute.  Within these  walls, while sipping the most consistently perfect soy lattes anywhere, I not only got more of a feel for the almost magical place where my next four novels are set, but a palpable sense of who I am in this season of my life. I had what is known as a Paradigm Shift.

You've heard that term before, right? It was popularized by Thomas Kuhn, author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (And no, I have NOT read that book. Seriously?)  A paradigm (in case you need a refresher on the definition like I did) is a model or pattern or even a worldview underlying the theories of a usually a scientific subject, although most of us aren't using it that way. (If your eyes are starting to glaze over, hang with me for a few more sentences. I really am going somewhere relevant with this.)

A paradigm shift needs to happen when the whole structure of that model or view we've been living or working by becomes full of holes. When we've tried to fix it so many times it looks like Joan Rivers (if you don't remember Joan, she was a comedienne who was notorious for her many facelifts). Our paradigm needs a complete overhaul. A total make-over.  It's not a do-over or a revision. It's an entirely new  approach because you're seeing  everything with new eyes.   Sounds awesome, doesn't it? My desk in Concord

Yes. Awesome. And also pretty terrifying. Seriously, it's not that easy to change. Not everybody in your life is going to cheer you on (because you may not "be there for them" in the same ways). You may have to nudge your way out of what you thought was your comfort zone. Bottom line: it's change, and change means ohmygosh you could (dare I say it?) fail.

And yet -- this paradigm shift, if it comes to you as a genuine change in feeling and thinking, is your lifeline. It's pulling you toward growth into a new season.  Need an example? (Now we're getting to the Writerly Women part)

Ever since the Young Women Writers Retreat at Glen Eyrie in April, several of the writers who attended have reported that they feel different about their writing and the place it needs to occupy in their lives. One in particular -- ABIGAIL -- has experienced this paradigm shift we're talking about. I'm going to quote her because nobody says it better:

    * "Beating myself up is not humility."

  Chelsea and Abigail at YWW 2019  * "Writing isn't childish anymore. This is a big girl book. I'm writing a big girl book."

    * "Now I'm a writer who actually writes."

The words are great. The actions are even better. In the week I was away, she wrote 15 pages -- 15 fabulous pages -- of her novel. The shift in her view of her work was apparent the moment I started reading it. This is genuine change, and now nothing is the same.

This is not something we can "make" happen. But we CAN take the time  and the intention to look at our lives and our writing and see if the model we've been using is full of holes that can no longer be patched up like a pair of jeans. Maybe some questions will help:

    * Are you taking yourself seriously as a writer, even if you're not yet published?

    *  Are you saying (and saying honestly) that you want to write, but you're doing everything else BUT write? Is something making you  afraid to sit down and face the screen or the page?

    * Are you still thinking that devoting time to writing is somehow selfish (even though we've talked about that, ladies ...)? Is it you who's telling you that, or other people? Caffe Nero

    * Do you long to write, but when you do have time for it you're so exhausted from all the other things in your life you literally can't do it?

    * Are you being blocked by what Julia Cameron calls crazy-makers who discourage you from pursuing your gift, even subtly, perhaps by sabotaging your time just when you're about to turn to your work?

If  the answer to the first question is "no," or the answer to any of the other questions is "yes," it's time for a paradigm shift. As we've said, you can't force that, but you can allow it to happen, by doing any of these things:

    * Set aside time to consider deeply where you are and where you want to be. You don't have to leave home for a week like I did, but even a full day or an afternoon devoted entirely to that can make the difference between staying stuck with the patching of holes and embracing a whole new view.

  Tea in Concord  * Spread that out over several days if getting away isn't feasible. A minimum of an hour at a time, no electronic devices, everybody put on notice that you are not to be disturbed, can add up to some authentic discoveries.

    * If journalling, thinking, meditating on this is not your jam, try painting or collaging what's not satisfying and what satisfying could look like. 

    * Talk to someone you totally trust, who would be willing to dialogue with you without giving you advice or, worse yet, telling you to suck it up and count your blessings. I would do neither of those things, so feel free to  email me and we'll find a time to chat. I'm very serious about that, which should show you how important I believe this is.

What do you do once you begin to see things with those new-paradigm eyes? That's the beauty of it: you'll know. This different model that takes shape will naturally show you what needs to change, what steps you need to take. It won't happen overnight. It certainly isn't happening like that for me. But in mini-moves, with a far more authentic view of where I want to be, it's slowly taking place. It can for you too.

Right here in this community you have an opportunity to sort this out with like-minded people. Simply leave a comment telling us which question is leading you to consider what shift would be good for you. Or tell us what shift you've experienced lately. You can even rant about the shift you want to move into, but you're certain is never going to happen because ___________. As always, we're all in this together.

Now, something new to the blog -- the YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ section, where I'll recommend books that I've found mind-changing and want you to know about. This week's are all about people who experience major paradigm shifts and inspire us with the results.

FICTION: Where the Crawdads Sing,  Delia Owens

NARRATIVE NON-FICTION: Educated, by Tara Westover Week 1 books

INFORMATIVE NON-FICTION: Deep Creativity, by Deborah Anne Quibell, Dennis Patrick Slattery and Jennifer Leigh Selig

If you'd like a wonderful guide to executing that shift, look into Cultivating What Matters, by Lara Casey Media (order through It's a little pricey but well worth the investment.

As our own GLORIA says, "Writing is like inhaling and reading is like exhaling. It's hard to breathe when you're always blowing out!"



Nancy Rue                     

The Why-Am-I-Torturing-Myself Spiral

Blank diagramHey, Writerly Women. How's it going?

Actually, that isn't just a greeting. It's the topic of today's post: How IS it going, this writing thing? In fact, IS it going at all?

Because I have a number of clients in From Shadow To Shelf and Doorways, it seems there is always at least one in the Writing Pit of Despair. We've probably all been there --

"I'm doing everything BUT writing. Seriously, who alphabetizes their spices when they don't even cook?"

  "Every time I sit down to write lately, all I can do is stare at the screen and think about enchiladas."

"I think I have to face the reality that all the good writing I'm going to do has already been done. I wonder if they need greeters at WalMart." Ashamed

Please feel free to write down your own wail. And once you've written it down, why not just go ahead and post it in a comment? The old adage is true: misery really does love another miserable person to sit down and commiserate with over coffee. The intriguing thing about that, though, is that pity parties for two or more often result in the participants deciding maybe they'll give it one more go.

That's my FIRST SUGGESTION for pulling out of the Why Am I Torturing Myself Spiral. Remember that tribe we talked about last week? Now -- when you're close to deciding you have no talent, no future, no self-discipline, nothing important to say (you get the idea)  -- is the perfect time to call, text or email one or all of them and say, "Do you have a minute to talk me down out of the Crazy Tree?"

We've all been up there, myself included. After the 2007 recession, the Golden Era of Christian Fiction began to rust and corrode. The 100+ books I'd had published made no difference in getting a new contract. "That last one didn't sell as well as we'd hoped" precluded new books. The day I realized the season of bliss was really and truly over, I started calling the members of my tribe. Paula. Dale. Father John. To name only a few. Granted, it took me another year to settle into a new season, but here I am. Writing. Mentoring writers. Looking at a new market. Thanks to the folks who gathered at the bottom of the Crazy Tree and talked me down.

Gloria at retreatAnd if you haven't quite found that group of supporters yet? It is quite possible to be your own supporter. My SECOND SUGGESTION is one that worked like the proverbial charm after the Young Women Writers Retreat last month. Being there was a high for all of us. Everybody was pawing the ground to get home and put all that great stuff they learned to work. Yeah, well, we'd all had that high before and we all knew how quickly you can come crashing down when faced with kids, stopped-up toilets, grouchy bosses, etc. SO -- each writer decorated a blank note card found in her goodie bag and addressed the envelope to herself. On the very last day, each person wrote herself an encouraging letter inside, specifically naming the things she'd learned, that had inspired her, as well as her next steps. They sealed them up and gave them to me. Two weeks after the event, I stamped them and mailed them out. SO many of them have contacted me with these reactions:

    "This came at EXACTLY the right moment."  

    "I was feeling like, 'what's the point?' and then I got my own letter and it changed everything."

    "I checked the mail every day, waiting for it. I did the happy dance when I got it. I can do this."

It works. The next time you're feeling pretty good about your sweet writer self, write yourself a note and seal it up. When you start to spiral down into the Pit, either open it up or mail it to yourself (if you can wait a few days). Seriously, do it. Because down in that space where your soul dwells, you KNOW you were meant to do this. You KNOW you can. Why not be as encouraging to yourself about that as you would be to a writer friend?

Now, sometimes the descent to the Pit has some evidence behind it. I wasn't getting contracts. No more requests to 'please write a book for us.' Fewer and fewer requests to speak. Clearly I had to find a different direction. One that still involved writing, just not the kind I'd been doing so successfully for 30 years. Maybe what I did can help you if you find yourself in the place of "This just isn't working."

    SUGGESTION #3.  Ask people who know you well what they see in you that is creative. That isn't a narcissistic question; you're gathering data. Fellow speaker Dawn Moore puts it this way: "What am I your go-to person for?" I was intrigued by the answers I received. They were enough to get me moving toward more exploration. I'm still doing it.

    SUGGESTION #4. If nobody's buying your work right now, write anyway. If you're even reading this blog post, I can safely say you can't not write. Journal. Finish that novel or short story or poem or non-fiction piece just because you want to -- not necessarily because somebody might publish it. Seriously, even if you're under contract, there is no total guarantee that your book will see print (publisher goes out of business, that kind of thing). If it does reach the shelves it might not be a best seller. We could all what-if ourselves endlessly ... or we could just write. Mj writing

    SUGGESTION #5. Do what GLORIA and ABIGAIL G. did recently. If you're stuck in the "Oh the heck with it" mire, call a writer friend and invite her to do a "Writing Sprint" with you. Hang up, set a time for 15 minutes and write without stopping. Then get on the phone/Skype/Zoom/Facetime again and compare. It worked wonders for them. I can't wait to try this at a retreat ...  

    SUGGESTION #6. See that blank diagram at the beginning of the post? It looks like you feel, right? -- gray, complicated ... How take a look at this one.

Concentric Japanese diagram


The possibilities that lie within a funk are really pretty creative and interesting and motivating. I did a whole BUNCH of self-exploration like this when I was floundering -- and the inspiration still hasn't stopped coming. I'm off to Concord, MA, next week to do research for my novels. A colleague and I are developing a program for non-fiction writers. Mentoring becomes more creative all the time  -- because God and I looked at me and said, "What else ya got?

Ladies, you got a lot. Come on up out of that spiral. Get down out of that crazy tree, or shout to us to help you. We're all in this together.





Creative Community: A Necessity

YWW 2019 groupHello, Writerly Women! Two weekends ago, we added to the community we've formed here on the blog. Some of the faces you see in this pic belong to writers whose names you've heard -- GLORIA, CAYLENE, ABIGAIL, SCOTIA. Others are new to the group -- two SARAHS, a JENNY, an AMALIE and a LAUREN. Our retreat at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs was nothing short of amazing --

    * one writer came away with a complete outline for her non-fiction book

  •   * one received a request for a proposal from the on site publisher
  •     * one is already taking steps to change her living situation to make room for who she is and what she wants to do
  •   * one discovered her creative self, just for the joy of it
  •   * still another reported feeling significant for the first time in her life

    There's more, but you get the idea, yes? As much as I would like to take credit for inspiring all that wonderfulness, I really can't. Most of it came from the sheer energy of authentic, creative women supporting each other, being transparent about their dreams and opening up about the BOHOs (Big Ol' Hairy Obstacles) we all run into. ALL of us. 

THAT is the definition of Creative Community. And it's contagious. Five of the young women you see here have formed a writing group in the Springs and meet monthly -- in addition to a pretty steady stream of communication among them. I can document the difference that has made: the writing of every single one of them has grown ten-fold since last year when they first came together. 

Another trio gathers whenever they can to brainstorm about their stories and get inspiration from obscure movies. They know they are among the crazies -- and they're owning it. Goofy YWW 2019

As God would have it, four of the retreat ladies were from Pennsylvania and didn't know each other before they came. They are now forming their own creative community, something they've never had before. Chelsea and Abigail at YWW 2019

If we're going to stay sane in this thing called creative writing, we can't do it alone. We need the tribe. And not just when we're first starting out. . .

I always return home from leading workshops happy and satisfied, but physically depleted. It usually takes me three days just to unpack. Not so this time. When I got home to Tennessee, I had almost as much energy as my 19 month old chocolate lab, which is saying something. Filled with the enthusiasm of those 17 young women writers (the word enthuse does come from the Greek for 'filled with God' -- just sayin'), I was ready for the next thing. I had announced at the retreat that I was going to retire from one-on-one mentoring in July of 2021 -- but in a matter of days after hitting home soil, I was already working with a colleague on providing help for serious non-fiction writers and having in-depth conversations with artists and tech people about offering my writing courses on line. There are workbooks in the development phase -- and I'm off to Concord, Massachusetts week after next to do research for my novel.

Even goofier YWW 2019What the Sam Hill happened?

Creative Community.

Before the retreat where I was supposed to inspire OTHER PEOPLE, I was looking ahead to retirement. After immersing myself in their  energy, I'm starting a new yet next logical venture. Alone, we can have ideas and dreams -- but together we can find the boost that gets us going. I think it comes down to this marvelous quote by Mother Teresa:

I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.

Mother Teresa

So what do you do with that? If you weren't able to make the retreat -- if you feel like you live out in the middle of Not-Creative Land -- if the people you try to share your writing dreams with nod politely and all but pat you on the head and change the subject to something scintillating ... like where to get a great manicure (or eyelashes -- what is WITH that, anyway? I digress)   How do YOU find your people? 

I have some thoughts on that. Let's see if this helps:

  • Comment here regularly. On this blog. Start conversations. Use it like a Facebook chat if you want. When I had my teen blog for 8 years, I was amazed at the friendships that grew from that. Some of those now-women still keep in touch -- really in touch, as in visit each other in different states! You aren't going to find as many of your kind of people many other places. It's a start. Kate at Glen
  • Reach out to even one other artist in your area -- and she doesn't have to be a writer; visual artists, musicians, choreographers, photographers all possess the same creative energy that you do. Make it a thing. "Come to my house for a glass of wine and a sharing of creative woes and victories on THIS DATE at THIS TIME." Or, "Will you meet me for coffee at _______, just to talk without somebody thinking we're nuts? How about THIS DATE at THIS TIME?" Notice the specificity of it. This is no time for, "We should get together." Be the one who makes it happen.
  •  Whenever you're in a crowd or group locally -- a party, a church small group, a baby or wedding shower, in line at Starbucks -- make it known that you're a writer (and whatever other creative thing you do ... LILY, for example, is an amazing artist and photographer, ESTHER is also a gifted visual artist, KELLY is a film editor. See if anyone else pipes up with a, "You are? So am I!" Then refer to the second bullet point above.

Shall we start right here? Leave a comment or click here to email me what area you live in. I'll be happy -- no, I'll be delighted -- to connect you with your fellow aspiring authors who aren't far away from you. I'll get everyone's permission, of course, before I start giving out  email addresses.

If you're already in a Creative Community, will you share how yours formed, how it works and what it's done for you? After all, we ARE all in this together.

Speaking of which, the Glen Eyrie Writers Workshops are happening July 6-9. As soon as the website goes live I'll provide a link. This could be the first step toward finding your tribe. We would love to have you.



Nancy Rue 

A Conscious Walk

HOlzer bookHey, Writerly Women. Before I get into today's pondering point, I just want to say how jazzed I am that conversations are taking place in the Comments section and that you're sharing what you glean from the posts. Community is happening, which is essential. Writing can be isolating. We need our fellow story-tellers to assure us we haven't, as they say in England, "gone 'round the bend." 

So ... why the book cover today? This book was written by Burghild Nina Holzer. How could she be anything BUT a writer with a marvelous name like that? ( I confess to wanting to say it with a thick German accent and lots of spitting in the process. But I digress ...) One of the things she says absolutely nails what we've been talking about here: going deeper.

The reason so many people block themselves from writing, from creating, is that they are not here. They have a head full of blueprints for the goal, they have elaborate outlines of how to get there, but they have never taken a conscious walk from their bedroom to their bathroom.   

I don't think she's just talking about the stumble there at five in the morning. The metaphor is apt. Let's unpack it.

Last time, I asked you to think about your canvas --- that one theme that everything you write authentically will add a brush stroke to. GLORIA says hers is "Everyone wants to be seen and heard." NATASHA came in with, "Everyone has a story to tell." At first glance it seems that they could write one book about that and then have to move on. But if they -- and we -- stay here with that theme, dwelling, as Emily Dickinson says, in possibility, we find that those possibilities are virtually endless. 

The key is to  stop (often) all the planning, the angsting over the market and the social media demands, the stressing when we realize halfway through our manuscript that it isn't going anywhere. In fact, before we even begin a project, we truly do need to sit with it, where we are, and be conscious.

Now, if you're like me, you can't go hang out by a lake and dwell on this until it comes to you. (I live steps from the bank of one and I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I've done that). If you can, I am in awe of you. Most of us, though, need to go through more of a process. Let's call it the Percolating Process. Percolator
(Friend and author Tim Shoemaker calls himself a crock pot when he does this; not to be confused with crack pot. Just wanted to be clear on that.)  I don't know if you're ever seen and heard a percolator do its thing, but it's quite charming. My parents had one when I was growing up, and I loved to watch and listen to it. When it's first turned on, it doesn't do anything. Then one blurt of weak coffee will appear in that glass thingie on the top and quickly disappear. Then two in a row, and then three, and so on with increasing frequency. The blurts make a sound that I'm having a hard time describing in words (should I admit that?) It's like bloop. Bloop-bloop. Bloop-bloop-bloop. Bloop-bloop-bloop-bloop-bloop BLOOP-bloop. It was part of the soundtrack of my childhood. When the blooping stops, the coffee is done. I can still picture my father's face when he took that first sip. The man knew how to enjoy.

When we are HERE, when we're CONSCIOUS, we can -- and must -- percolate. What does that look like? For me, it's this:

    1. First bloop: the hint of an idea. For my current novel, that came from hearing a spot on NPR.

2. Second bloop: the idea keeps coming back. That NPR story wouldn't leave me alone. I had to look it up on the internet, at which point I became even more intrigued.

3. Bloop-bloop-bloop: somebody that idea can happen to starts to take shape in my mind. The mother of a murdered teenage girl. Broken by the tragedy. Just now coming back to herself when ... Thoreau 4

4. Serious blooping: journaling. I wrote about Meredith for reams of pages, and then let her write to me. 

5. Deep blooping: epiphany. I happened to do a study (unrelated) of  Mary Magdalene and somehow I knew what my Merry (Meredith) was about. As always, there was a part of her that was a part of me I hadn't admitted to myself.

6. Stillness: going deeper. I researched Transcendentalism (you'll see why if/when you read it). I talked to women whose spiritual journeys I know are genuine. I kept journaling. Slowly I knew what the story was about -- not the plot but the inner journey. Merry's and this phase of mine.

7. Time to drink the coffee: enjoying shaping the novel. As a Planner, I did the fun part (for me) -- the character analyses, the plot skeleton, the rest of the research, the trip to Concord, Massachusetts, the interviews with experts. It felt delicious to put it all together in what I call my first draft, which is a 40+ page chapter by chapter outline.

I can never get to Step 7 if I don't percolate my way through Steps 1 through 6. 

Whatever your process is, you skip the percolation at your peril. Perked coffee, drip coffee, even Keurig coffee if it's good quality (check out the Black Rifle Company for the best I've tasted) is all far superior to instant. Does anybody even drink that anymore? Even when it comes to tea, yeah, I can make it in the microwave, but waiting for the kettle to boil and hearing the steam whistle and pouring the hot water over loose leaves of Cream of Earl Grey ... THAT is a process worth going through.

So, to think about, and hopefully comment on: Are you HERE with your current project? Have you taken the CONSCIOUS WALK through your protagonist's inner journey, and your own? Give it a shot. Ponder what brush stroke it adds to your canvas.   Share that with us, will you?

Our blog friend SARAH has joined the roster for the Glen Eyrie Young Women Writers Retreat. There's still room for 7 more. Just sayin'.  Click here for infoIMG_9678


                                                                            Nancy Rue         

News From Natasha

Natashs's blog Hey, Writerly Women, this just in: NATASHA has a wonderful blog. She's writing about tough, timely things in a voice we NEED out there.

Check it out , and if you can, leave her a comment. I think you'll want to.

While I have you here, you DO know about the Young Women Writers Retreat April 12-14 at Glen Eyrie Conference Center in Colorado Springs, right? If not, hie thee hence to the website and check it out. HANNAH, ESTHER, GLORIA, JENNY,  CHELSEA, KELLY, SCOTIA, CAYLENE, KATE, ABIGAIL and AMALIE are all going to be there, and there is still room for 9 more. Scholarships are available through Glen Eyrie. Crazy group without Estherr  



Seriously, who wouldn't want to be part of this action? Our theme this year is "Making Room for Your Writing" , and I have a bunch of new activities planned and fresh approaches to implement. If you need more info, just email me.  The only requirements are that you be between 18  and 39  and you want writing to be part of your life.

See you back here Wednesday?



Nancy Rue       

What's Your Canvas?

EverybodyHey, Writerly Women. Can I just say how delighted I am that our community here is coming together so beautifully? You're encouraging each other, celebrating victories, hopping onto your fellow writers' blogs and websites. Writing is such an isolating art most of the time, and the fact that you're participating in a group which recognizes that and comes in with support for that loneliness is, to me, a God thing. So welcome, our two latest additions: HANNAH and NATASHA -- both young, awesome fiction authors I'm honored to work with.

SO, how's the journaling going? I'm personally digging the whole spiral journaling thing. If you haven't read last week's post you might want to go there, because we'll be referring to that practice from time to time in the weeks to come. I'd still love to have pictures of your journals, and do feel free to comment about what your personal writing is showing you any time. 

That, of course, is part of our 40 days of going deeper into ourselves in order to go deeper in our writing. Good books have been written about creating richer characters and more complex stories. My favorite of those is Donald Maass's The Emotional Craft of Fiction.  Emotional craftI not only recommend it to my clients but I use it myself. I could just tell you to go buy it and end this post right here, seeing how "The Don"  -- as he's referred to by those who have studied under him -- poses many questions that encourage writers to search their own souls before they search those of their characters. In fact, do check it out if you haven't already.

But I'd like to approach this in a little bit different way -- from my own experience, which is basically what we all work from, right? (I'm trying not to be narcissistic here!). At the time I wrote the book you see above (with the world's longest title!) Everybody Tells Me To Be Myself, But I Don't Know Who I Am, I realized I wasn't saying anything I hadn't said before in the fiction I'd written, both for tweens and their grown-ups. Everything I'd written up to that point was about authenticity. Didn't matter if it was a tween fiction series, a set of novels for teens, a novel trilogy targeted to adult women, non-fiction books for all of those age groups ... even my blogs and Facebook posts ... they were all centered around the theme of being one's true self. I started pondering whether I should come up with something new. How much fruit could actually still be on that tree?

And then our priest (I'm Episcopalian) preached a sermon in which she said that it's quite true that every pastor, preacher, priest or what-have-you has only one sermon that he or she preaches over and over in some way. After explaining what hers was -- and son of a gun, she was right! -- she said (and this is one of my favorite phrases now): "The brush stroke I'm going to add to that canvas today is_____"

I have to admit I didn't hear much of the rest of that sermon (I'd heard it before obviously!) because I couldn't get that out of my mind. That was what I was doing as a writer. I only had one book in me. I just kept writing it in different ways and -- and this is the important part -- adding a new brush stroke every time.

That didn't just serve as a way to "get me off the hook". It actually forced me to go deeper with that same theme. If I was going to have new brush strokes to add, I myself needed to become more and more authentic, getting down to those false places where it can actually be painful to scrape junk out and make space for what's real. I quickly learned that it was not for the faint of heart. Girl artist

Writing isn't, unless we're putting out formula romances or cozy mysteries (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, okay?). If we want to write with meaning, with passion, with power we pretty much have to open a vein. But before we get out the scalpels, we need to know just what that canvas is.

    What is that theme your characters keep pulling you back to?

    What is the recurring issue in your life that seems to be taking years to resolve?

    What is common to the novels you read over and over, the films you'll watch repeatedly, the non-fiction books that continue to speak to you?

    What do you admire in the people you respect? What do you want to emulate?

Those are just a few of the questions that will help you discover the grand painting your life's work is creating. The answer to them will not only deepen your writing ... it will deepen you. If I hadn't written as much as I did from age 30 to age 62 (when I began to divide my writing time with mentoring) I wouldn't be the same person I am today. I'm not "there" yet. Seriously, we're not done 'til we're dead, are we? But I would not be as far along as I am if not for creating Lily and Sophie and Lucy and the Mean Girls and Sullivan Crisp and the 'Nama Beach High crowd and the Flagpole Girls and all the other characters who showed up on the page. They added brush stroke after brush stroke, and yet my new characters in my work-in-progress have found even more places on the canvas that need filling in with color and texture and perhaps some new styling. Asher's U collage 

You see what we're doing here, don't you? We're looking at not just one book out of you. We're talking about a body of work, each project taking us deeper. THAT right there is why it's so important to know, or at least have the whisper of an idea, what our life/writing theme is. Just one word -- that's all you need. 

Really, really, really this doesn't mean you're "stuck" with only one thing to write about. The possibilities for what you do with that if you're true to yourself are virtually endless. It's also guaranteed that it will evolve and grow as you do. So don't think of this as a decision you have to make for the rest of your life, but as an awesome discovery that will carry you on its creative wings for years to come. 

Will you tell us what your WORD is? Or if you don't know yet, will you describe how you're playing with ideas until the solid one comes to you? We would love to hear. This is big stuff. Who doesn't need the support of other artists who say, "Yes. You've got this. Get the brushes ready." 

Blessings on your delicious seeking,

Nancy Rue               


JournalsOne of my all-time favorite quotes is from the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. He told his writing students: "If you want to work on your art, work on your life." That's what we're about during this Lenten season -- deepening our lives so we can deepen our writing.   

LILY is doing it this way. "For the Lenten season this year, my plan is to observe, describe, and write down how the Lord is present and working in our lives on a daily basis. I'm pretty sure this will also impact my writing as I work on book 2. I'll be in a better position to see the magic and to notice attitude and related issues that need to be explored."

SARAH... recently attended a blogging weekend with some awesome ladies and is tentatively trying to start writing one.

AMANDA, like me, is also developing an at-home yoga practice.

In her new blog, HEIDI is appealing to something deeper by making sure that her time with God's word is more important than her own words.

HeidiWait for it ...

Some of you are going to cringe, roll your eyes, etc. when I say this, but one of the almost magical ways to arrive at that "something deeper" is through journaling. I know just because you're a writer doesn't mean you're drawn to keeping a journal. And most writers aren't as into the whole thing as I am. The picture above shows just four of the journals I have going at the moment (one for my protagonist, one for yoga, one for just me and one for my deep spiritual study.) Don't click off here -- I'm not going to suggest anybody else has to chronicle every moment of their lives the way I seem to. Seriously.

However ... I'm putting this out there. According to Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. Before you come back with: And an unlived life is not worth examining, hear me out. If we're to write in a way that goes deep into the soul of our characters (in fiction) or the very spirit of our readers (in non-fiction), I think we need to be able to write into our OWN souls and psyches and spirits as well. And besides, you never know what you're going to discover in there.

Spiral journaling

Will you try something with me? One of the things I love most about being alive is that there is always something new to be learned, and just this week while reading a book on women and journaling I came across this scathingly brilliant idea. Here's how it works:

  • Write one page  -- in your own handwriting -- on a topic that's personal to you. I've offered some prompts below but absolutely feel free to do your own thing. It IS a journal, after all -- the freest kind of writing you can do. Write without stopping until you fill up a page. And 8 1/2 by 11 page, ladies ... no itty bitty pocket journals for this exercise.
  • Read through what you've written and highlight or underline one sentence or phrase that stands out for you. I promise you that in the midst of your rambling you'll find at least one pithy, jarring or shocking word or passage.
  • Write just that at the top of a clean page.
  • Now write one page on THAT. A whole page, without stopping.
  • Read THAT page and highlight or underline one word, phrase, or sentence that practically leaps off the page at you, waves its hand and says, "Pick me! Pick me!"
  • Write just that at the top of a clean page.
  • Write on page on THAT. A whole page, without stopping.     

Donald-Maass-1-AThis is called spiral journaling, and it's kind of amazing. It reminds me of an exercise Donald Maass has writers do in his workshops. You list five things that might be a protagonist's motivation for doing a particular thing or having a certain goal. Then you write 5 more. Finally, you choose the last one you listed and try that as the character's reason. Somehow, doing that takes you deeper. I share this with you in case you are still balking at the idea of recording your thoughts in anything resembling a diary.  You can just write a list. 

If you've ever worked with me in a writing class or as a client, you've probably been asked to journal with your protagonist or your antagonist. If you come to any in the future, you'll experience spiral journaling for your character. I'm finding it to be really, really telling.

Other options

First, though, I'm convinced we need to go deeper into our selves. If you save all your writing for projects, try spiral painting or drawing. Sketch or free paint a symbol for something you're struggling with. Find what strikes you most about this piece of art, hone in on just that in your next piece, and so on. I mentioned yesterday that KATHLEEN does something visually creative before she sits down to work on her non-fiction book, and I can personally tell you the results in her writing are like quantum leaps.

To get you started

If you'd like to try this but you're not sure what you want to write about (and by the way, it could be the thing you're most resisting...) these are some prompts that might get your inner wheels turning. SARAH says hers are a little rusty, but give them some mental WD-40 and you're good to go. Nobody is going to read this except you. It doesn't have to be "good." It just has to be you.

    * What's putting you on the interior hamster wheel right now? Or up the crazy tree? Or listening to that tape that keeps looping in your brain? 

    * What do you need to talk to someone about but you're afraid to for whatever reason? Olivia's journal

    * Is a "what if_" occupying your thoughts right now? 

    * Do you want to have a specific conversation with someone but you're putting it off? Losing yourself in Facebook or polishing the door handles instead?

    * Do you have a hope that you think sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud, but you want to explore it anyway? 

Want to comment?

If you want to comment this time, of course tell us anything you want to (except maybe, "Nancy, this is the all-time worst idea you've ever come up with.") But I would LOVE to hear:

                    How this exercise went if you tried it.

                    Your other experiences with journaling.

                    What other methods you use for exploring interior territory.

AND -- if you want me to include a picture of your journal in my next post, by all means email it to me

Meanwhile, enjoy this exploration. It think you'll find it's not as scary in there as you might think.



Nancy Rue     

Celebrate With ... Caylene!


Hey, Writerly Women, drum roll, please --


Our own CAYLENE has published!!!


Just   click here to check out her novella, Courage In the Mountains.  It CAN be done. Thanks, Caylene, for inspiring us all. 

If you have a milestone to share, please leave a comment or email me. We're in this together.

AND if you haven't read yesterday's post, click here to go there now and leave a comment to let us know you're in. Read the comments, too, because seven of you (that's 7) have reported in how you plan to go deeper -- in both your writing and your selves -- during these 40 days of Lent.  

In case you missed today's Quick Post, you might want to see what LILY is up to. Click here to check it out. Lily and me

I'm eager to get into the meat of our 40 days together ... so much so that I plan to post tomorrow. Yeah, don't keel over into a faint.


Love you, Writerly Women. Let's do this thing.


Nancy Rue

Love, love, LOVE that Colleen, Amanda, Jennifer, Lily, Sarah, Karen Kay and Gloria are on board -- and those are just the writerly women who left comments. We are on a Lenten roll! If you want to check out LILY's blog, too, she's at You'll love it over there! Check out today's new post for another milestone to celebrate.

Getting THERE vs. Being HERE

Writing day 2019Good morning, fellow Writerly Women. I hope you're still here. I am. I won't go into all the reasons why I haven't reached out to you since November. Nobody needs to hear all that, trust me. But this is now, and I can't think of a more fitting day to push the reset button than Ash Wednesday.

Yeah, Mardi Gras -- or at least the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper -- is over, and those who observe Lent are moving into a season of introspection -- soul searching -- and hopefully transforming. I'm already into and loving it, even in light of the not-so-awesome things I'm having to face about myself. It's sort of like cleaning out a closet, right? It's a pain to do, but it feels Marie Kondo-worthy when you're done.

I think we can observe a Lent of sorts as writers too. I could give you post after post about techniques and information on 'what publishers want' (okay, maybe I can't do that last one because, really, who the heck knows anymore?). But you can get that from any number of great writing blogs. In fact, any expert on social media for authors will tell you: "Don't do a writing blog." (notice how carefully I paid attention to that ...) What I want to do for these next 40 days is offer some ways to go deeper as writers and, consequently, as people. It's going to look something like this:

    * Searching questions about your willingness to get below the surface in your work

    * Some Explorations, as we call them in the Doorways Program, to show you personally how you can get beneath the existing layers

    * An open invitation to include us in your discovery process

    * My experience as I excavate right along with you. 

Are you in? Even if you don't usually comment will you just post a quick one to let us know you're with us, albeit silently?

To get you started, you might want to look at what some of our Writerly Women are already doing to dig deeper, rather than simply "Get There."

    Heidi just launched a blog yesterday that I think you'll love. (I have it on personal authority that she is both a hoot and a deep-thinking person. 



Abigail G. also has an engaging blog that will speak right to you.



Behind the scenes ...

    Loretta has been inspired to change the entire ending of her work in progress -- no small feat in an epic novel.

    Scotia is revising her entire non-fiction book -- which we thought was ready for prime-time viewing -- in light of new things she's discovering about herself.

     Carell has taken up journaling, something she's balked at until recently. She's finding not only her protagonist but herself. Go figure. 

    Kathleen is discovering that painting before she sits down to write allows her to delve into those painful places that will make her non-fiction book a work of art in itself.

    Andrea is now writing for Clubhouse Magazine because she was willing to dip into a facet of herself she hadn't used in her authorial career before. 

    After finishing Book 2, Dawn is rewriting her already-self-published Book 1 to reflect the strides she's made in going deeper.

      Leslie is taking a break from working on her novel to immerse herself in important issues, an experience that will enrich that book when she returns to it.  Leslie 2
The same goes for Pam, Hannah F. and Sandra.

I could go on, but the point is that each of these women is focusing on BEING HERE rather than GETTING THERE -- that elusive place we dream of that can't be reached through better techniques, the right writer's conference or even revising until our eyes bulge from their sockets.  So  --

        Let's BE HERE for the next 40 days together.

        Let's support each other as we take the risk to go down just a little bit further into our own authenticity.

       Let's learn to live -- and consequently write -- from our beautiful God-made souls.

I can't ask you to do the above if I'm not doing it myself, and I am. I've taken up yoga more seriously, attending two classes a week at a wonderful studio on the newly-updated Lebanon Square (with tempting boutiques and coffee shops nearby for Artist Dates; just sayin') and practicing at home. I've coupled that with Centering Prayer and even more of my usual journaling. I'm beginning to see the effects of that not only in the work I'm doing on my novel two days a week, but in my mentoring as well. Everything seems more creative. Who knew?

One more thing. If you're between the ages of 19 and 35-ish, you can now register for the third annual Young Women Writers Retreat April 12-14 at the Glen Eyrie center in Colorado Springs. Check out the link. We will definitely be going deeper there.

Glen 2019If you're over 35, no worries. The Glen Eyrie Writers Workshops are happening July 6-9. As soon as the site goes live, I'll let you know.

If you can't make it to a retreat, that's okay. We'll make THIS our weekly (and hopefully more often) gathering place for working our way in. I can't wait to hear from you. Again, let us know if you're on board for the journey.



Nancy Rue


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




Seriously -- Who's Going to Read This?

ALA with MaryHey, Writerly Women!  Back when Mary Weber, my very first mentoring client, was a newbie ( she is now, like, the queen of Christian fantasy and teaches workshops and oh, my gosh I'm so proud. .. Now, where the heck was I going with this?) Anyway, at the American Library Association Convention that year, she asked the question we all ask, "Who is going to read my books?"

I went through a season early in my writing career when even though I had a contract I could NOT go into a bookstore. Really. If I did force myself to enter, I'd walk up  and down the aisles and imagine those thousands of books sticking their tongues out at me and neener-neenering, "We're on the shel-elves and you-'re no-ot!" I had to flee before I evolved into a full blown anxiety attack.  Who was going to read MY stuff when there was so much already out there?

I don't even know, and that's not the point here anyway. The question "Who's going to read what you write?" is about our AUDIENCE -- and that's what I want to explore together this month. Here's why.

I'm 120 pages into my current manuscript. I have been for a while. It's not that I don't have my usual massive outline. It's not that I don't love my main character. It's not that I don't have confidence in my voice. Until I went through a deepening of my spiritual journey this summer, I didn't realize just what the Sam Hill was keeping me stuck at page 120. 

I'd have to write an entire non-fiction book to explain how my study of Mary Magdalene led me to this conclusion (really, don't ask unless you have time for a treatise, and no, it has nothing to do with The Da Vinci Code), but it finally came to me that the reason I stopped writing was this:

I didn't know exactly who I was writing for.

And I mean exactly. I knew "women". I even knew "intelligent women." What I'm talking about is the one specific woman who I want to pick up my novel. The one woman who has to read it or I haven't done my job. I have to know who she is, down to the way she orders her coffee at Starbucks or I can't finish this book.

The thing is, that's exactly what I tell my clients to do. Here's one of my favorites. You're going to LOVE this.

    The tall young man with dark shaggy hair leans his hand over the bookrack, examining the titles with his baby blue eyes. He bites down on his pierced lip, lightly touching the spins with his thin delicate figures. His pale face, with one bluish tinted bruise on his left eye, gazes suddenly at the book on the bookshelf entitled “The Heart of Death.” Thinking it is some kind of Gothic novel, like the black clothes he wears, he picks up the book and cradles it in his arms as he opens the book, turning the fragile pages as he reads the words. A tear emerges from his eye as he begins to read, feeling the ache in his heart from his current circumstances. And he is enthralled. Goth girl

That is how fine a point we have to put on the image of the person we are writing for. That is what drives us. That is what sits us down at the computer and keeps us there. And that's what this month on the Doorways blog is about. I'm opening the door for you -- challenging you -- to share a paragraph describing your ideal reader.

Will you do it?

Will you email it to me?

Or will you type it out in a comment?

Will you let it focus you right into that next paragraph in your work in progress? 

I'll keep opening the doors. You keep walking through them. I'll walk with you.



Nancy Rue


Transition ... Not to Be Confused with Big ol Leap of Faith

Wanting to quitHey, writerly women. This post could also be called, "Don't Quit Your Day Job ... Yet." 

But don't you have those days when you WANT to? When you're having such a BLAST writing and it's flowing through your mind and fingers like a silk scarf and you're more sure than you've ever been of anything in your life that this is what you're meant to do.

     I'm sure our ANDREA feels that way fight now. She just finished her FIRST DRAFT. Go girl!!!

    And LILY, who just polished off her FINAL DRAFT. Yeah, baby!!

And then the alarm on your phone dings and you have to get ready for your shift at Starbucks or TJ Maxx or Home Depot -- or go to bed because you have to get up tomorrow and be a first responder or an administrative assistant or a lawyer. 

Yeah, the urge to stop transitioning and just give your two weeks notice or your two hours notice or just call in "never" can be pretty overwhelming, In fact, it's easy to mistake it for God saying, "Just do it. Take the leap of faith. I will take care of you."

Heck, you might be able to find a Scripture verse to support that if you look hard enough. What about the whole "lilies of the field thing?" Or God keeping his eye on the sparrow. Those work, right?

I'm not going there, this not being a post on miracles ... but I do know that God gave us two sides to our brains -- the right side for the creative, emotional, word crafting activities that make us fabulous writers, which we are Two sides of brain
--- the left side for analyzing, planning, and keeping us from getting run over by cars. It's difficult to pay attention to said left side when the silk is running through our hands and we're envisioning ourselves spending our days in our characters' worlds.

But if we're going to eat, we kind of have to. 

So how do we know when it's time to quit that day job, or at the very least go part time, especially in this very tight publishing climate? I can speak to this because I did it. Twice. The first time not terribly successfully, though I learned tons, the second successfully enough to launch me into a full-time career. I'm not going to go into a narcissistic telling of my experiences. I'll just share what I know from them, and from what I see going on now. Before you take the leap (even part time):

    * Have a publishing resume.

        That can mean a hefty list of short stories and/or articles, either print or on/line, paid blog gigs, or books that are bringing in income, again, either traditionally published, self-published, print, or e-books. We are talking INCOME PRODUCING publications that promise to continue, now that you'll have more time to devote to them.

    * Have enough money in the bank to cover your expenses for six months.

    Not just the basic bills and food but your writing-related items as well. You're going to use more supplies like journals, drink more coffee at the shop where you write, that kind of thing.

    * Be prepared to cut corners.

    Lattes at home, anyone? Meatless dinners? Last year's shoes from Payless? Friends doing your manis and pedis? 

    * Be willing to take side writing jobs that may not be fascinating for a while.

    I was writing YA when I first went full time, andI  did articles for those high school health class magazines on everything from sweat to circadian rhythms. Did you know that gustatory hypohydrosis means you sweat when you eat spicy food? You never know what info you'll pick up to impress people at cocktail parties. 

    *Be ready to work long -- and we are talking LOOOOONG hours.

    Working for yourself is not a glamor gig where you get to sleep in, write a couple of hours, go out for lunch, take a nap, watch Netflix for inspiration ... There's no sick leave, paid vacays --  and weekends are pretty much like all other days. 

    * Make sure you are already self-disciplined, have a routine and are highly motivated

           Anxiety BPHP Scotia You may have written your supervisor into your novel as your antagonist and given him everything but fangs, (okay, maybe you've given him fangs) but your boss when you go full time free lance is you, so you may have to grow some. Better grow them BEFORE you give notice.

    * Be in the publishing world

        This is the hardest part for our beloved introverts, and most writers, especially fiction authors, ARE introverts. This means you've gone to writer's conferences, made contacts with editors, publishers, agents, others writers, magazine people.  When you write for a publication, be personable in your emails to the staff. Join writers' Facebook groups. If you have an agent, get on the agency's client Facebook group (most of them have same). Writing is going to be your job so you'll want to know the people involved in it. They'll be able to give you the skinny on new opportunities -- especially sites like Linked In

Basically, you need to have it going on before you take that leap. You might be thinking, "Doesn't that kind of do away with the 'faith' part?"  Not really. You're still giving up the security of a paycheck, insurance and other bennies, and there are no guarantees the writing work is always going to be there. Publishing is as fickle as the music industry, Hollywood and guys between the ages of 14 and 30. Okay, maybe 35. Where the faith really comes in is here:

        If you truly believe -- because the writing does flow like the aforementioned silk scarf -- that God has given you a gift and God wants you to use it to enrich lives -- God will use it in some way. If it's meant to be in a full-time writing life, and you're willing to make the slow transition and eventually the final leap, it will happen. If it's to be a part of your total career and you're willing to do the same thing, yes. It will be. 

    I think we're saying it's about the timing. We need to rest in that, right? Write into it. Transition into it. Not rush into it before we're ready and end up living on Top Ramen. That's a sure way to stop believing in the gift and start believing you're a failure.

 So yeah, the big ol leaps are exciting and dramatic and call for champagne. By the case. The transitions, though -- they're the day to day steps that slowly take you there. Just keep that scarf in your hands.


If you want to comment, tell us how the writing feels in your hands right now. Give us an image. Silk scarf? GLORIA's famous potato masher stuck in the drawer? A handful of confetti? Me? I just had a breakthrough, so it's like that big paper thing football players run through when they're going out onto the field.  Show us what you're workin' with. Footbball banner





Investing In Transition ... Like Shannyn (and there's an offer tucked in here)

Shannyn solo head shotHey, Writerly Women. About six years ago, my friend Shannyn Caldwell told me she wanted me to help her write a book. I'd just started my mentorship program (she was my second client), and Shannyn was the co-anchor of the morning show on a Christian station in Detroit where she'd had me on a bunch of times so of course I told her absolutely I would.

Um ... what she sent me was actually a collection of journal entries, and to be fair, she did exactly what you're supposed to do when you write in a journal: ignore punctuation and grammar and sentence structure. The writing was very creative ... especially when it came to spelling, if you take my meaning. But, the story. Oh, my gosh, ladies, the story. The STORY of her healing from losing both of her parents in a tornado, after only recently going through a devastating divorce, was so compelling it had to be told. Shannyn and her husband scraped together the funds and Shannyn, determined to do what she so clearly felt called to do, wrote and rewrote, revised and re-revised until Healing Season was self-published. 

Self-publishing was the logical choice for Shannyn because she had an active speaking ministry and shortly thereafter became the morning co-anchor for the nationally syndicated Family Life Radio. And now, these half dozen years later? Shannyn just reported to me this morning that the Healing Season is becoming a Holistic Wellness Community. Shannyn's book table  Shannnyn is a certified holistic nutritionist, she will be a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor by the new year, and a PhD in the philosophy of Natropathic Meedicine  by age 50 is the final educational goal.

So is it any wonder she was invited onto Holy Spirit Broadcast Network? 

Shannyn on tv

And asked to speak at the Grand Hotel in ... I assume Detroit (I neglected to ask her that part)


Why am I telling you Shannyn on stageall this? Because when Shannyn knew she had to make a transition, when the call to write that first book wouldn't leave her alone, she made an investment. If I recall, there were some financial sacrifices involved, as well as some time squeezes. She had two active kids at home. A husband. A full-time job. The fact that Shannyn was and continues to bear a strong resemblance to the Energizer Bunny notwithstanding, that's impressive. It all started with a willingness to invest. 

Let me be clear: this is not a call-out for you to sign up for my mentorship program! YOUR investment doesn't have to be that. There are other ways to mark the fact that your writing, your ministry has significance. It's sort of like buying a good pair of cross trainers to show that you're committed to your fitness program. Or purchasing the best paint brushes you can afford to make the statement that you consider yourself a serious artist. Or knitting your boyfriend a sweater ... okay, maybe not that. You get the idea, though, right?

So let's think ... what investment can you make, however small, to move yourself one step through this transition from wherever you are to Writer? To Author of a Completed Book. To Creator of a Series. To Founder of a Movement. To Quiet Leader of an Important Thing. It might look like one of these:

  •     * a new laptop or tablet
  •    * a decent Word program
  •     * a good on-line course in something specific about writing you're struggling with
  •  * a creative filing system to keep all your stuff in  
  • a Donald Maass book (I recommend Writing 21st Century Fiction or The Emotional Craft of Fiction or, if you've completed a first draft, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook)
  • a journal for your protagonist
  • a babysitter two hours a week just so you can write (and NOT so you can take a nap or get a pedicure)
  • a package of colored index cards for plot points
  • a fund for take-out on the nights you want to write instead of cook dinner
  • a one-time 90-minute session with me for $35 to include a reading of 10 pages of your work; for non-client blog subscribers only. Make a comment and I'll message you with info. 

I make investments in my writing on a regular basis, so I don't fall into, "I'm investing in my clients' work. I don't have time for my own." That would be cheating not only myself, but those same clients. I can't expect them to do what I'm not doing. My latest investment is this: my work-in-progress takes place in Concord, Massachusetts. I just booked a research trip there for early October -- 5 days wandering that awesome place, taking notes and pictures and pretending I am my characters. That's a lot of time and a chunk of cash I've been saving up since January. How can I not finish the book, then? See how that works? (I'll have a lot more to add to my Pinterest Board when I come back. )

Will you tell us how you're investing? Or how you plan to? It becomes so much more real when you say it out loud. say it out loud to us.



Nancy Rue

Transitions: They Don't Just Happen

WorkhouseHey, Writerly Women. I have to say again how impressed I am with AMANDA'S work. Not to mention her courage in putting it out there for us to examine. We should all be so brave, yes? So let's take a look at her transitioning prowess.

The first paragraph is pretty dang perfect as a narrative bridge:

 The workhouse was eerily quiet, completely abandoned except for the three of us. We followed him down the three levels, the iron stairs intact but precariously unstable as we stepped over debris. Everything was shattered, broken beyond hopes of repair, plaster and stone crumbling little by little. Whatever the Mountain did next would surely be the end of this building forever. This place had been my home for almost my entire life, but I wouldn’t miss an inch of it. It would be better off in ruins.

It leads us from where we were before to where the action is going to pick up again. I know where we are and what we're up against.

The next paragraph is NOT a transition and while it also is well-written -- I can totally see it, and as I read I'm cringing because I don't want to step on anything sharp -- if I were Mandy I would break it down into more active pieces with some dialogue. We're not on a bridge here, we're on the other side, ready for action.

So instead of:

    My feet stepped into water as we reached the final level, the unrecognizable room flooded, water and dust mixing into mud. We waded through it, our bare feet stinging as we stepped on broken things that we couldn’t see to avoid beneath the murky water. 

Mandy, you might want to go with something like:

    When we  reached the final level, the room was flooded. Unrecognizable. I stepped right into the water and dust that mixed into mud.

    "Do we go in?" SOMEBODY whispered.

    "I don't think we have a choice," I said.

    As soon as I took the first step, though, I wished we did have one. My bare feet stung as I stepped on broken things I couldn't see to avoid under the murky water.  From the way SOMEBODY yelped, I knew she was experiencing the same thing.

See what I mean, Amanda? Amanda

Now, getting back to the whole narrative bridge thing ... this is a paragraph (or more if they're short) that takes us from the action of one scene to the action of the next. We don’t always want to (nor should we!) account for every move our protagonist makes, but at the same time we don’t want the reader to wonder where the Sam Hill he/she is when suddenly there’s a whole new setting and group of characters.

Here's an example of an effective narrative bridge:

    The next three days were an exercise in trying not to chew someone’s face off. Everything Todd said turned her nerves to barbed wire. The kids clearly sensed her tension and ramped up their own, the bickering between Caroline and Buddy reaching Trump/Clinton proportions. And her mother was, well, her mother. Ellie was actually considering calling Rock Doc for some Valium when the email finally came.

You don't ALWAYS need one. Sometimes it's obvious that you've moved from one thing to the next.  A narrative bridge DOES work well when you’re moving from one scene to another AND (1) some considerable time has passed, (2) the place has changed, and/or (3) something has occurred that needs to be mentioned but doesn’t need an actual scene of its own.

When you do write a narrative bridge, here's what to include:

  • An indication of where we are
  • An indication of how much time has passed
  • An indication of who’s there and what they’re doing
  • A mention of anything that’s happened in the gap that’s not just the usual teeth-brushing, dinner-cooking, treadmill-running kind of thing

It should sound:

  • like the  same voice you use in the rest of the novel
  • which is  the voice of the protagonist even if you’re using the third person
  • and NOT like you the author.

For instance --

    NO: Michael had a hard time waiting for Cheryl to call him. Two weeks passed before she did. “Hello?” he said anxiously into his cell phone.

    YES:   Two weeks passed before Michael heard from Cheryl again. Two long. Tortuous. Weeks. He didn’t pass them sitting with his cell phone in his hand, waiting for the special ring tone he’d set up for her. That would have been really pathetic. It just so happened that when the call came through, his mobile was on his lap. Pure coincidence.

Just remember that you’re telling a story, and you want the telling to be clear and delicious and smooth. One way to check your narrative bridges is to have someone read them who hasn’t read the previous scene and ask your reader to tell you where and when the new scene is happening.

This came to me when I was vacuuming this morning (the only reason I do mindless household tasks is because that's when ideas come to me; it has nothing to do with a penchant for cleanliness) ... where was I? Oh, yeah, I was vacuuming and I realized that when we write, transitions don't just happen. We really have to shape them carefully or nobody knows what's happening. It's the same when we're in life transitions like the ones we talked about Friday, and like the one LILY wrote about in her comment. Lily and me    We can't just wait for the change to happen, because it probably won't and then we end up with what Thoreau called "lives of quiet desperation." We have to shape them too -- and that's what this month of August is about for us as a writerly community.

So will you do any or all of these things?

  • If you want us to look at a narrative bridge, just email it to me and we'll give it a go.
  • If you're in a life transition, tell us about it. HANNAH definitely is. Babies will take you there whether you're ready or not!  Hannah and baby

 * If you need help getting THROUGH said life transition, let us know. 

We won't try to fix anything. I'll just take what you give us and hopefully provide some ideas and inspiration. As always, I'll go first so you know it's safe. Can't wait for Wednesday to share a new step I'm taking. See you then.


Blessings, Nancy


Transitions: From Here to Where?

Bridge 1Hey, Writerly Women. I'm loving your feedback on AMANDA's excerpt, posted Wednesday, August 1. If you'd like to support Mandy with a comment, go for it. Monday I'll put in my two cents and offer some guidance on transitions in our writing.

 Since the topic of said transitions is our theme for August, I'd like to get some input from you on the whole life changes thing. Here's what I mean.

  •    It's easy to recognize when you're going through a big ol' sea change. Graduating from college or grad school. Getting married. Having a baby. (Like HANNAH, MEGAN and SCOTIA all recently did. I was beginning to think it had something to do with being in my mentoring program!) Changing careers. Moving. Breaking up. Those are definitely transitions, and if you're going through one and you want to share, we'd love to hear.  Bridge 2  

But there are also the more subtle shifts. Going from unquestioning faith to having some doubts. Moving from a smooth relationship with your family of origin to one more fraught with conflict. Finding yourself less satisfied with old hang-out friends, craving deeper relationships. Being increasingly restless, uncomfortable, uneasy or just plain bored with things as they are, without really knowing why.  Care to tell us about that?  

This being a writing community, why am I asking you to basically bare your soul?

Two reasons, actually.

One: When your life changes, the kind of writing you do may change -- and that's worth looking at. Maybe as a teen and twenty-something you were all about writing fantasy, but some recent alterations in your circumstances might have you wanting to write in a more head-on way. Or as a just-turned-40 in the midst of a career you were all about contemporary women's fiction, but now, with grandkids in the picture, the tender whimsy of children's literature is more attractive to you.

Mysti at retreatTwo: That's not just a matter of genre. When stuff happens, you discover new strengths as well as new vulnerabilities. You stumble on emotions you didn't know were lurking in your soul. You recognize a different way of thinking. A fresh team of demons appears on the scene to be battled with. All of that changes your writing because you are changed.

 All that to say, I think that as we're crossing the bridges we can:

    * write deeper

    *  write "realer"

    *  write in ways that can better serve other people who will have to make those same transitions, whether the shifts are interior or exterior

 That's why I'm asking you to look at your bridges, your changes, your transitions and possibly share them with us. We'll use those stories this month to talk about career moves in this writerly life, turning points in our own and our characters' lives, and more and more ways we can shape our writing ministries to serve a world that is always, always in transition.

I'll go first. I'm transitioning in a couple of ways. I'm doing far more mentoring than writing now, and that has been a huge change after 30-some years of back-to-back contracts. I'm shifting back to finding better balance, because if I don't create, I'll shrivel. I'm also accepting some health issues that are temporarily limiting but in the long term are making me more aware and more intentional about the way I take care of this body. Fragility and vulnerability and surrender are new themes I'm going to be writing about, and maybe in some new ways. I like "maybe" ...

Will you share? That might be a shift for you. Please know this is a safe place for it.



Nancy Rue   

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Transitions: In Writing, In Life

Madisons camera october 9 037 (2) m and boys sepiaHey, my fellow writerly women. It's been a while, hasn't it? My absence has definitely not been not due to lack of thought of all of you, believe me. I guess the best way to explain it is to say I've been in "transition". Does that resonate with anyone? I'm sure you've had them:

    * from the dreamy idealism of the late teens to the stinging slap of the early twenties that wakes you up to adulthood

  •     * from the lull of a relationship to the sharp state of singleness, or vice versa
  •     * from the rote following of religion to the bright walk of real faith 

I could go on, but you get the idea, right? Me? I've been in transition from energetic, I-got-this health to a state of mindfulness of my physical fragility. I'm on a healing journey and it's worth it and I'm learning tons -- seriously, TONS -- but it's taken time and energy that I would have ordinarily used to be here with you, sharing and developing the writing life. Now that I have a direction, I think I can be present more. Are you up for a re-start?

An idea for us came to me in one of those times when I was lying still with my eyes closed but not sleeping (who DOES that? apparently I do now!). We'll have a monthly theme, one that touches not only our writing, which is what brings us together, but our creativity as a whole and our very lives. We can't really separate those things out from each other anyway, so why not go with it?

For August, that theme is the aforementioned TRANSITIONS. We'll start with those places in our writing when we've left a pretty intense or significant or active or downright hilarious scene and we need to move to the next one -- but we don't know how to get there without accounting for every mundane moment of the protagonist's life in between. AMANDA -- who is probably the youngest among us but certainly not the least talented, as you'll see -- has asked us to look at a bridge scene she's written. Her questions:

    1. How do I not lose my momentum during these scenes?

    2. How long should they be?

So let's do this. If you'd like to support Amanda, read her excerpt below and in a comment (a) tell what you like about the scene and (b) give her feedback of 1 to 5, 5 being the clearest and 1 beinAmandag the foggiest in terms of getting us from one scene to the next without bogging. 

I give you Amanda King, Author of the Future:     

      The workhouse was eerily quiet, completely abandoned except for the three of us. We followed him down the three levels, the iron stairs intact but precariously unstable as we stepped over debris. Everything was shattered, broken beyond hopes of repair, plaster and stone crumbling little by little. Whatever the Mountain did next would surely be the end of this building forever. This place had been my home for almost my entire life, but I wouldn’t miss an inch of it. It would be better off in ruins.

    My feet stepped into water as we reached the final level, the unrecognizable room flooded, water and dust mixing into mud. We waded through it, our bare feet stinging as we stepped on broken things that we couldn’t see to avoid beneath the murky water. The main door had been thrown aside, and dim light shone through. The Knight exited, and we followed him out into the open. We stood in a ravine, the rows of workhouses rising up on either side of us, built into the mountain. The other buildings were in similar disarray, and as the dust was beginning to settle, I could faintly see a group of the other slaves, all silently huddled together as they traveled down the road away from the mountain. They were escaping this place, those who had survived; they were free now. I could have been with them, I realized as I stared after them wistfully. We had been so close to being free, but we had missed our chance. 

Here's our plan:

    * I'll give you a few days to respond to Amanda. Even if you just give her a number I know she'll appreciate that.

    * Meanwhile, I'll do another post this week asking for your input on transitions in our lives, which will provide fuel for future posts

    * Early next week, I'll post my response to Amanda's excerpt and offer some guidelines for writing narrative bridges.

Sully's bridge

If you have a transition excerpt or a how-do-I get-from-here-to-there issue you'd like for us to take a look at, with subsequent feedback from me, please email it to me.  

Before I go, a couple of victories to celebrate:

    MEGAN GONZALEZ has had her third YA novel, Salty Crisps, accepted by Clean Reads, which will be out as early as December 2018. This completes the trilogy of Sketchy Tacos and Bubbly Schnitzel.

    LILY and SUSAN have both completed final drafts of their first novels. MARGIE has finished her first draft.   JENNIFER and CAYLENE have completed the first draft of a project they've been working on together since last year's Young Women Writers Retreat. 

    DEB HAYES has launched I Can Do Stuff . Check it out: (there's a funky video of me if you scroll down ...) Just click here. You are going to want to be part of this. 

    GLORIA  now has a writing gig with long time author Bill Myers, which I'll have her tell you about in a comment. She was also a star at the recent Glen Eyrie Writers Conference ...  (word to the wise: never volunteer to participate in a Tim Shoemaker keynote) Gloria and tim

    DARLO GEMEINHARDT has signed a three-book contract for her At the Crossroads Series with Little Lamb Publishers, the first of which is entitled Abra-Cadaver Dog. How fun does that sound? 

If I've missed a milestone you've shared with me, let me know and I'll put it out there so we can all go, "Yay, rah!" If you have one you haven't told me about, what the heck's been stoppin' ya? Let's hear it, girl! 

It is good to be back with you. Thanks for being here to come back TO. Together, let's transition from writers alone to a community of creators. Yes. Let's do that. 


Nancy Rue   



Breaking Down the Action Scenes

Lord of the rings actionHey, Writerly Women. your response to GLORIA'S piece was exactly the kind of feedback that makes a writer -- hopefully Gloria! -- want to get right back to the computer keyboard with fingers blazing. Your questions were insightful and thoughtful, and all were framed in positive "What I loved about it was ...." That's what a writer's group looks like. Gloria, were you pleased?

Later this week we'll look at a piece written by AMANDA. And of course, if you'd like to put your own work out there with questions you're wrestling with, please email me and we'll make that happen.

For those of you who missed that post -- in which case click here -- the excerpt we looked at was an action scene. Those can be some of the hardest to write. How do you get the thing so vivid the reader can see every move, feel every stab, slap and bite (yikes, we're a sadist lot, aren't we?). If we smear it, it's like watching a movie where the punches look fake and nobody believes anybody got hit hard enough to come out with that bloody nose. 

If your writing doesn't involve actual physical altercations, it still contains action (and if it doesn't, get on it, girl). Tension happens in concrete ways, whether it's a passionate kiss (doesn't get any more active than that) or an argument in a restaurant (which if it doesn't involve wine tossed or a glass dropped or a hasty exit to the restroom, should). It has to be every bit as gripping as a melee in Lord of the Rings, or your reader may just go "meh." Nah, we don't want that.

So how do we get there? Your questions for Gloria showed that you already have a clue to the answer. You asked about specifics. 

When I was teaching and directing theater for high school and college, several times I hired an amazing stage combat choreographer named Richard Lane, founder of the Academy of the Sword and author of the definitive book Swashbuckling. How awesome does that sound, historical and fantasy writers? He came in from San Francisco with his impressive collection of actual swords (the kind that clang and flash and make you certain someone is about to be impaled) for our productions of The Three Musketeers and Romeo and Juliet, and his considerable knowledge of hand to hand combat for The Outsiders.

ne of the things I remember most vividly as I watched him work with student actors (besides being absolutely convinced my Juliet really had stabbed herself -- it was that authentic) was that he kept saying, "This is going to feel like slow motion to you, but it will be real to the audience. Trust me." 

He taught them the slow-mo technique by breaking down every single move. How the attacker's arm came back -- and how the receiver of that attack reacted with a slow flinch (which sounds like an oxymoron, I know.) How the fist seemed to go upward into the rib cage -- and how the victim's entire torso seemed to fold inward. It could take two hours just to block one sword duel -- and several more to perfect it. The precision was painstaking. The results were gasp-worthy.(Do I even need to mention that he was smokin' hot?)

It's the same when we're writing. We want the scene to read at a breathtaking pace so that the reader is white-knuckling the book or Kindle, but as we're creating it, we have to take everything apart.

     * the actions

     * the re-actions

     * the thoughts (though we want to keep those to a minimum; mid-battle is not necessarily the time for deep reflection)

     * the emotions

     * the random details a person notices (ever been in a car accident? do you remember the song that was playing just before the collision or the way a Coke can sailed through the air?)

Let's use Gloria's full-of-potential piece as an example --


The soldier drew his weapon.


     Wilford swung his blade and the soldier jumped back easily.  Another swing, and the two swords met.


What would happen if we broke it down? My apologies to Gloria for taking some liberties, since I don't know the characters.


The soldier unsheathed his sword with the precision of one who had done much battle, and had won most. The silver point was inches from Wilford's chin before he had the wherewithal to swing his own blade. It seemed clumsy in the air compared to the soldier's easy parry. He jumped back so easily Wilford felt color rise in his face. He had to get on top of this, or he would soon be in ribbons. The words of (HIS TRAINER) flashed through his mind as the soldier waited, balanced on his toes. WHATEVER THOSE WORDS MIGHT BE. Wilford heeded and etc. etc. 


See the difference? The writing of it felt as if the details would drag the scene, but as I go back and read it, the action moves swiftly. And we're there IN it, rather than watching it from the outside. 


So be your own combat choreographer. Or get yourself a consultant. Whenever I have to write a scene that involves physicality, I hit my retired Navy SEAL husband up for advice. We have enacted scenes in the living room, clearing out lamps and furniture first, and then I have gone back and written them immediately. When I had to compose a fire scene for one of my novels, I sought the advice of our local firefighters who took me into the training tower and let me experience an actual conflagration so I could break down the action. Nancy and the FiremenIt was a real sacrifice, considering what that helmet does to your hair!  


Whatever it takes, make it real. Give us every detail with rapier sharp precision. You'll be sweating when you're done. So will the reader.


If you want to comment today, and I hope you do, tell us what kinds of scenes YOU have the most trouble with. The reflections? The transitions? The point where the protagonist "gets it"? If you're a non-fiction writer, what kinds of sections make you bite your nails at the computer? We'll see if we can't give you some help with that.


We're all in this together.



Nancy Rue           


Circle Around Gloria

IMG_9678Hey, Writerly Women. Your response to the idea of putting excerpts of your work here on the blog and asking for help was awesome.

   "I'd love to do this!"

   "Such a good idea."

   "I'm up for it."

   "When does this start?"

    How about right now?

    GLORIA sent me a snippet, so let's gather around her in what wonderful writer Parker Palmer calls a Circle of Trust. (By the way, his book A Hidden Wholeness is amazing. Love me some Parker Palmer). It works this way:

    * You read Gloria's piece and her questions.

     * In a comment, you tell her what you like about the piece. That always comes first.

  • Then address her question by ASKING questions. "What does the scream sound like?"   "What are the soldier's eyes like?" "How big is the window?" That way, Gloria can figure out what she needs to do by answering those questions. Get the idea?

All right, then. I give you GLORIA:

    He spun around.  There, standing in the doorway, was a soldier in silver uniform.  Screams rose beyond the door.  Wilford’s eyes darted to his own sword, resting on a chair.


     On the other side of the room.


    “Is something wrong?” The soldier smirked, but he wasn’t listening.  They were under attack.


     Get out, he had to get out.


     He ran for his sword, ripping it out of its sheath and whirling around.  The soldier had come in and stopped mere feet away, his hand resting idly on the pommel of his sword.  The smirk grew bigger, as though knowing who would win the fight.


      The soldier drew his weapon.


     Wilford swung his blade and the soldier jumped back easily.  Another swing, and the two swords met.  He heard another scream.


     More were coming, he had to get out.


     Hacking and swinging, he pushed the soldier back until he was against the wall, the clash of steel ringing in his ears.  He had to finish this, then escape before others came.  Through the window, perhaps.  The swords met once more and he pressed down, his blade inching closer to the exposed neck . . .

      GLORIA'S QUESTION: I'm hoping for input on how to write action/fight scenes, because it isn't sounding very smooth to me. 

She's all yours, ladies. Let's surround her with encouragement and get-her-thinking questions. Kenzie at retreat I personally am licking my chops - but I'll save my comments for our next post.

If you want us to circle YOU and YOUR excerpt, just email me. We are all in this together.




A Chance for Input on Your Work

Answer to criticHey, Writerly Women. Every now and then here on the blog, we'll offer an opportunity for you to put your work in progress out there and get input from the group -- or just take a step in overcoming that fear of letting anybody see what you're doing, whether you invite comments of not.

Here's how that will work:

  1. You'll email me a 250-word excerpt or description of an idea with a specific question you'd like to have addressed (is this too wordy? is it generic? do you get it? is it cheesy?)-- or a request for no comments.
  2. I'll post it, probably on a Friday, and invite your fellow writers to make comments regarding your question.

We'll all follow the guidelines for helpful, humane input, which I'll post each time. They include saying something positive first, sticking to the writer's invitation and responding in the form of thoughtful suggestions or questions. I'll go into more detail on these later. And I'll go first so you'll see how it works and be assured that this will be a positive experience (i.e. nobody's going to go for your creative jugular)

For now, will you let us know how this sounds and whether you'd like to participate?   

AND one more thing: if you'd like to write a post for our blog, either send me an email or leave a comment. I'll send you the particulars. As always, we're all in this together.


Nancy Rue


The Writing Doors We Lock Ourselves

  Gate 2 dangerHey Writerly Women. Monday we talked about those writing doors that are slamming in our faces, making us feel like, "Seriously, what is the point?" I asked you to comment, and I was expecting things like:

*  I've gotten five rejections from agents and I'm ready to give up.

  • * I can't even GIVE my short stories away.
  • * The number of visits to my blog is embarrassing. I'm not even going to query publishers; they'll laugh in my face when they see that.

That wasn't what came up in your comments and emails at all, though. Your answers were actually more concerning. We can find a way to keep sending out those queries and searching for small publishing houses and going to writers conferences. But we can't even begin to knock on those doors if we don't have anything written! 

And why don't we?Because we've locked ourselves out.

* "I've been walking through some messy relationship stuff and haven't been able to focus."

  • "I keep wondering where I fit in this writing world and what I'm actually supposed to write for God."
  •     "I feel the pressure that I have to come up with something amazing or write in a genre that I don't like but others like in order to impress them."
  • "I'm afraid of failing to do well with writing. Though I'm toward the end of the revising journey, the part I'm working on seems to crucial to get right, and I'm afraid I don't have what it takes to seal the deal and make it truly good."
  • "Look for agents or publishers? I might not survive all those rejections."
  •  "Things still aren’t moving the way I’d like for them to move in the chapter that had me stuck. And since I’m trying to write linearly, everything else is stalled. I’ve considered skipping it and moving to the next chapter to see if that would help. I have revisited it several times, and still little success or momentum."

These aren't doors that are being closed to us by someone else. These are doors we've locked, bolted and padlocked ourselves.

And sometimes, these are the hardest to pry open. Time before the door

First of all, here's how you know the chain on that door is of your own making:

    * You sit in front of the computer screen frozen in time.

    * The very thought of trying to write makes you so anxious you want to throw up.

    * Your living space is cleaner than it's ever been because you're using it an excuse not to show up with pen in hand.

    * You're blaming your spouse, your kids, your job, your sciatica for keeping you from typing that first word or that next word or that last word.

What all of that means is this: YOU'RE SCARED SPITLESS!!!!

How do I know this? Been there. Over one hundred times. Every time I started one of my 125 books, I thought: Is this the one I'm not going to be able to do?  Are they finally going to discover that I'm a fraud? 

Every. Time.

I always went ahead and wrote the dang book because after the first several I always had a contract. And by the time I got to the end of the first chapter I thought: OH, yeah. I know how to do this. And then when I got to Chapter Seven (without fail) I thought: This is the worst piece of trash I've ever written. Why did I think I could do this again? 

I DON'T have a contract now, so if I didn't finish my current project nobody would be mad at me or ask me for the advance back. I still keep writing, though, because I know that voice -- both the one I hear and the one YOU hear -- is:

        * NOT REAL


     * NOT GOD.

That's your frightened false self talking. The one who tries to protect you from disappointment, rejection, shame. She talks so loud you can't hear God.  Inner critic barb

God, of course, never tells us we're losers, imposters, frauds, fakes or ridiculous to think we can use the gifts we've been given. Seriously, where is THAT in the Bible? God says things like: "Darlin', I wouldn't have given you the talent to express yourself in words and images OR the desire to do that if I didn't already know you can do it. And I want you to do it."

So how do you unlock the doors you personally have deadbolted so you can hear God saying, "Come in. We have stuff to do"?

I only know what I do. I've done it quite recently - AGAIN -- and it's extremely effective.


    * Banish the False Self. I imagine a gate to the kingdom of God we live in now (not the heavenly kingdom), and I picture a couple of angels guarding it, which they need to because my False Self is out there rattling the bars, begging me to let her in. She says she has something important to tell me. NOT. With that image in mind, I turn my back and move toward God, where the dreams and the plans and the words and the images and the stories are. Way Wards by sazariel

   * Don't put expectations of monetary and critical success on yourself. I never thought I'd write all those books. I never expected to actually be able to make a living at it. I just did it. And did it. And I kept doing it. Now, when the publishers are no longer calling me and I'm not making my whole income from writing, I'm still doing it. Who knows what will happen with my current project? I just know that if don't just do it, nothing will.

   * Make sure you spend plenty of time with God talking about this. Of course you're going to pray for other people and for the world. But it is NOT selfish to devote a significant amount of space journaling and praying and meditating on how God wants you to use this gift. WHETHER you should write is not the question. If you weren't supposed to, you wouldn't be reading this blog. It's in there. HOW is the question. Listen for the answer. It will come in surprising ways.

After today, we aren't going to spend any more time angsting over questions like "Am I good enough?", are we? We're going to get into the meat of HOW and WHAT. We''ll be so focused on that, we won't have a moment to spare locking doors so we can't get in.

So let's leave it with a line from an Eagles song that I love, called "Already Gone": "Often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key."

You have the key. Use it now, will you, to encourage each other? In your comment, tell us the next step you're going to take to JUST WRITE. We're all in this together.



Nancy Rue             


What Do We Do About Closed Writing Doors?

Endless doorways 2Hey, Writerly Women. When I stood at the end of this walkway in St. Thomas, it looked as if the hall of closed doorways was never-ending. And then of course -- because my mind is a crazy town of similes and metaphors -- it also occurred to me that getting stuck anywhere in our writing is exactly like that. 

     * You get so far in the novel and suddenly the idea doors slam shut and you decide it's the worst piece of trash you ever attempt to write.

     * You finish your piece and you edit it and you polish it and you let people read it and they all say it's amazing -- and then the publishing doors all appear to be locked, with no signs on them saying when they'll be opened.

     * You get interest in a piece of your work but the publisher says you first need to improve your social media numbers so you open accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, start a blog, pay to boost, learn to use hashtags -- and still only your mom, your best friend, your boyfriend and that Fan Girl who "likes" everybody visit any of them. As hard as you tried to pry that door open it still shut with your fingers in it.

When you get to that point, if one poor innocent person says, "Well, when God closes a door He opens a window," you want to smack him or her in the face.

I have so been there, my loves. For the first probably 25 to 30 years of my writing career, I didn't get that whole closed door thing. Doors I didn't even know were there flew open.  That was a very different time. When that time changed and the sound of slamming echoed in my head at every turn, I spent half my time wailing and half my time hoping I had never told anybody that when God closes a door, another one opens.

Before I go into what I did about that infinite hallway of sealed entrances, I'd love to hear from you. What doors seem currently blocked to you?  This is an opportunity to vent. Wail. Gnash teeth. Give us an image for what it feels like.

Because one of the major purposes of this blog is to help you realize you are NOT alone. Picture us all gathered at a retreat, passing the popcorn and the Kleenex. I'm right there with you. IMG_9720





Does It Have To Be a Book?

ClubhouseHey, Writerly Women. One in your midst -- MEDOMFO -- reported a writing success this week:

I'm getting a poem published in a charity book that some young writers from The Rebelution's writing group The Young Writer are organising, and God willing, I may even get a short story and article published in the book as well!

This victory isn't going to send Medomfo to college -- at least not financially speaking. But it makes her a published author. It gives her a chance to reach out and nudge somebody (maybe a lot of somebodies) with a thought, an image, an idea, an inspiration. It could be the collection of words, artfully stitched together, that gets somebody out of bed or out of their hamster wheel thoughts. Y'never know, and the point is, she's a writer. She writes and she shares. Someday she'll probably do that in book form. In fact I'm sure she will because I've known her in blog world since she was, like, 10. Today is not that day, and yet still, she writes.

I actually got my start as a published author writing short stories for every magazine that would have me. Granted, there were a lot more print opportunities in the 80's and 90's than there are now. Every ministry had Sunday School take-home papers and magazines for various age groups, and I wrote for the Methodists, the Baptists, the Nazarenes, the non-denoms. I loved doing short stories, but I'd take a non-fiction piece if it came along. There were a couple of secular magazines used in high school health programs that had me submitting on a regular basis. I wrote articles about everything from sweat (which is a big deal when you're a teenager) to sleep (an even bigger deal) to choices about dating (the biggest deal of all). By the time I moved to focusing on books, I had over 200 short pieces in print, some of them more than once (second rights, third rights, etc.) I wasn't any better than any other writer. I just found ways to get my stuff out there because that's what writers do. Again, we write and we share.

These days the short piece pickin's are slimmer when it comes to print media. But the Internet is a veritable smorgasbord of options. Most of them don't pay, but when you're breaking in, that isn't the only reward you're looking for. Several benefits will come your way:

    * Name recognition.   Or should I say "voice recognition"?  If you write killer short stories or articles in that style that is distinctly your own, readers will look to see who the author is. Haven't you done that? "I think I know this writer ...Yeah, it IS Diana Sharples -- Leslie Farthing -- Margie Wood -- Karen Kay." 

* Future assignments.  Readers aren't the only ones who will remember your name. Editors looking for good writers will practically stalk you, and they might even pay you. 

  •    Experience.  I learned so much from working with editors back in my magazine days. How to communicate with them. How to stay in word count (not that any of my subsequent book publishers would agree that I learned about word limits ...) The economy of words. Following guidelines. By the time I got a contract for my first book,  I knew the basic drill and didn't feel like so much of a newbie. 
  • Publishing credits. When you query an agent with a proposal for your first book, it doesn't hurt to show that you're already a published author. You come across as a professional, and most publishing folks prefer to work with someone who knows what she's doing. This eliminates that whole Catch-22 situation -- how do I get published without publishing experience? Get you some. 
  • Confidence. I remember reading my first acceptance letter standing right in front of the mailbox at the end of the road in Dayton, Nevada, in 1981. A youth magazine that doesn't exist anymore offered me $80 for a short story I'd submitted. I had two thoughts. (1) "Now I can have my typewriter fixed." (2) "Now I'm an author." I'd always considered myself a writer. Now I was an author. From that moment on, I knew I could do more. I knew I was headed in the right direction. I knew I was good. It was like a kiss on the top of the head from a Loving Father, saying, "Of course you are."        
    Writers MarketHow do you do this now, in 2018? Actually, much the same way I did. One of the most valuable tools a freelance writer can own is a Writer's Market. This amazing book contains the names and information for all publishers of both books and magazines in the English language who accept free lance submissions. It's organized by categories so you can simply look up the type of magazine you have a piece for (youth, women's, sports, etc.) and study the entries.  Writers market inside
  • I went to the Religious category and immediately found a periodical that's looking for short fiction. (How anybody writes a piece of fiction in 500 words is beyond me, but that's a separate issue). Each entry will tell you everything you need to know about what they're looking for, how to submit, what they pay (or don't pay), etc. I received the new year's WM for Christmas every year back in the day and actually wore them out. 
  • If you read a magazine you really like, check out their guidelines for submission, which most will have somewhere. KAREN, another among us, has done pieces for some of the Stampington publications, which are very high quality. The fact that she's an artist doesn't hurt her any, so if you have photography or artistic skills as well as a writing gift, check out magazines such as Bella Grace, Flow and Somerset Home.

Google is, of course, your friend. I just Googled 'women's magazines accepting free lance submissions' and got 1,210,000 results. There aren't that many magazines, but there are that many articles and lists that tell you how to find them. Who knew? 

I still love to write short stories and do for Focus On the Family's Clubhouse magazine for tweens a couple of times a year. Recently Brio magazine for teen girls resumed print publication and it's just as much fun to write for as ever. COLLEEN and LESLIE have both had success with Focus's mags. If you'd like more information about that, just leave a comment.   Brio  

May I offer one last piece of advice? Avoid the kind of thinking that says, "I'm meant to write deeper, more serious stuff. I don't want to waste my time on smaller things." Okay, I'm just going to come out and say it: Don't be a short piece snob.  You probably can't recite To Kill a Mockingbird from memory, but chances are Emily Dickinson's I dwell in possibility is floating around in your brain somewhere. Many people who love to read, who are searching for wisdom in the written word, don't have time to lose themselves in epic tomes. Let's remember them, and sharpen our skills at the same time. 

If you'd like to make a comment, and we hope you do, will you share with us any opportunities you've found for getting short pieces published? And of course ask any questions you have on this topic. We're all in it together.



Nancy Rue 

Am I Called To Write?

Leslie 2Hey, Writerly Women! Mondays are showcase days when we spotlight writers from among us. Today I bring you LESLIE FARTHING, who is working on a novel I consider to be chick lit with a deeper meaning. The book is only in its first draft, and it's already both touching and fall on the floor funny. Leslie is also a consummate blogger, so much so that I have bequeathed my Tween You and Me Blog to her and another delightful client. I think you're going to love what she has to say, and I hope you'll join in the conversation she starts here. Ladies, Meet Leslie.


I love writing. I always have. I love the feel of a fresh pencil in my hand and the sound it makes as it scratches the page. I love the process. Unseen thoughts becoming visible. Tangible. Accessible.

I love that you can erase words until you have conveyed exactly what you meant to say. No stuttering, hemming and hawing or having to backtrack. If you don’t like what or how you said it, you can fix it before you release it to the world.

 Leslie's 3 erasers.

Writers have changed my life. The way I see the world and interact with it. How I see God and interact with Him. They have opened up worlds I would never have known and insight I might never have considered. They have empowered me to imagine a better world and appreciate the life I have.

In Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb helped me make sense of my life as it lay in pieces on the floor around me. At a time I thought I would never be whole again, he let me know that I was not alone. And I was not the only one.

In The Divine Romance, Gene Edwards changed the way I saw God, and my understanding of how God sees me. It is an allegory of creation. All the way to the Cross. And beyond. If you have ever struggled with the whole “Bride of Christ” concept, read this. Yesterday.

I read The Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado when I hated everything about my life. Especially my job. It gave me hope. And the courage to make a change. It’s what led me to teaching. And now writing.

Frank Peretti changed how I saw the spiritual world through his work, This Present Darkness. He enriched my understanding of spiritual warfare and changed the way I pray.

The list could go on.

And on.

And on.

Leslie's live  love repeat  

 But as much as books (and really it is the writers) have changed my life, I’m still trying to get my head and heart straight in regards to this writing gig and where I fit. It taps into a very vulnerable place in my soul where my dreams, the real ones that I don’t talk about, are nestled safely away from prying eyes.

 And one of the questions that I keep chewing on is this.

Am I called to write?

I mean, I love to write… But is it a calling? Or is it a whim?

It is a desire of my heart. But is it a desire of God’s heart for me?

In a recent Exploration, Nancy had me journal about the thoughts that interfere with my writing.  After much tears and gnashing of teeth, here is where I landed.

  •  I  want to live a life of maximum impact
  •  God has given me an ability to write.
  •  I will never know what kind of impact I can make through writing if I never try.
  • Writers have changed my life. Opened my eyes. Fed my hungry, hurting and weary soul. They have let me know that I am not alone. I am not the only one. My struggles are real. And there is hope at the foot of the cross.

Am I called to set people free? Help others know God? Open the eyes of the blind and set prisoners free? Feed hungry, hurting and weary souls? Let people know that there is hope at the foot of the cross?

Then yes, I am called to write.

Leslie's Eleanor RooseveltIn the comments section, I’d love to know: What questions do you chew on as a writer? What’s tripping you up mentally? And how have you made peace with it?

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

(Aka Leslie Farthing)

Insta leslie.farthing

Facebook leslie Farthing

My Favorite Oxymoron: Organized Dreams

Gloria at retreatGood morning, Writerly Women. The marvelous braided young woman you see with the contagious grin -- that's GLORIA, budding author and friend of the blog, (as well as maker of hats for the homeless.) Gloria's description of her writing process is that it's like the potato masher which gets caught in the drawer and you have to keep tugging and bouncing and pulling until it finally comes loose. Yeah, I love me some Gloria. (Although I need to correct a former post in which I gave her credit for the "writing is like brownies" image; that was actually MACKENZIE. My apologies to all.)

But what I want to share from her today is her method for capturing the ideas that come willy-nilly -- the ones that aren't caught in the drawer yet because they're still flitting around out there. I'll let her tell you:

I'm always with my phone, so when ideas hit I open my notes app and type them out before they fly away! Sometimes (a lot of the time) I'm in the middle of a conversation when an idea hits, so most of my friends are familiar with me saying 'that was good, I need to write that down' and whipping out my phone. I really have to get it down right away or I'll never end up writing it!

Apparently you don't have to be part of the phone-in-the-face generation for that to work. MARGIE also grabs her cell when an idea flutters by, only her method has a slight twist. 

When I have a great idea but no access to my computer, I record a voice message on my phone. As I talk, the ideas start to flow!'

That gives validity to the propensity all us artists have for talking to ourselves. Although if I record on my phone I forget to go back and listen to it, which is probably because I'm not an audio learner.

But I digress.

DIANA'S butterfly net ...

 is a calendar. I write contemporary YA. So much of my characters' lives are dictated by the school calendar, that I find one from a school in the vicinity of my setting and write down all the breaks, holidays, test days, etc., and those days often inspire events in the novel. In my novel, Running Strong, the protagonist is focused on hearing those three little words, "I love you," at the Homecoming dance. Halloween plays a role in the third book of my mystery series. So I draw up a calendar page and start plugging in plot events as a way of outlining.

The method is as creative as the story-telling. It is, in fact, a vital part of that story-telling, and there are probably as many ways to capture ideas as there are writers doing the capturing. But there are a few things to keep in mind as you try to figure yours out -- if you haven't already -- or tweak what you have going -- because that's a thing that constantly happens. Organizing Dreams may seem like as much an oxymoron as Open Secret, but it isn't if you look at some key ingredients.

    * It needs to be portable -- so, significantly smaller than the metaphorical butterfly net. Phone notesIf it fits in the bag or backpack you haul around with you, you're good to go. At least one of my clients carries neither ... this is a concept I do not understand ... but her phone fits in her jeans pocket, so there you go. Make it as small and simple as said phone, a pad of index cards (they come spiral bound, which is my method of choice), or a slim notebook. Stick a pen in it. I can't tell you how many times I've had a scathingly brilliant idea and couldn't find a dang thing to write with. And I call myself a writer ...

   *  You need a place to transfer those notes when you get back to mission control (that space we talked about in a previous post).  That's why I like index cards, so I can slip them into the folder, binder or bin I have going (depending on the stage of development I'm in -- a topic for an entirely different day) That way when you sit down to write, you don't have to dig for your info. I don't know about you, but I wish I had a dollar for every minute I spend looking for stuff (keys, phone, my head), but I never have to work at locating my musings. I am a slave to my imagination!

   Notecards* If it's creative, you're more likely to use it. There are enough parts of the writing life that are about business. Gathering ideas isn't one of them. So no matter what method you use for reeling in those snippets before they get away, make it fun. Put those  phone notes in your own voice -- written or spoken -- reflecting your excitement. Decorate that pad or notebook. Get yourself some colored gel pens. Doodle. Indulge in exclamation points!!! This is the fun part, and if it isn't, make it so.

Those not indoctrinated into the writing world will think you're playing. You are. We must play if we are to create art of any kind. So break out the chartreuse felt tip or the package of stickers and bring in a crop of awesome thoughts. We'll be reading them someday ...

If you want to comment today -- in addition to responding to the above -- I would love to hear about your recent "smaller" writing successes. Articles. Short stories. Blog posts that elicited comments. A rejection letter that encouraged you to keep looking. We're going to talk about those Monday when blog friend LESLIE Leslie 1
will share a post with us.  I'll go first. I'm not having three or four books a year published like I used to, but last week a short story I recently wrote for Clubhouse Magazine won first place from the Evangelical Press Association for Fiction. I took a moment -- okay, more than a moment -- to say, "God, you rock. Thanks for the reassurance that I'm still doing what You want me to do. " And it's still fun.


Nancy Rue   



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


Let's Start With the Dream

Nancy in the sea Hello, writerly girlfriends. (Okay, I need to find a better name for us ...) This is our first for-real post, and that feels huge. I'm so glad you're here to shape this community with me.

Speaking of which, some of you are having a hard time subscribing -- as in, you're getting a bunch of gobbly-dee-gook that only a hacker could understand. I've tried a couple of things to change that and will continue to until everyone can comment smoothly and nobody misses word of a new post. If any of you are Typepad savvy, will you shoot me an email? I bet Jane Austen never had issues like this. 

Which leads me to our first topic: The Dream. Ever seen the film Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris? (All fiction writers should). The protagonist, played by Owen Wilson ( because he's the only one who can pull off the lead in a Woody Allen script besides Woody Allen) longs so much for the writerly life the expatriate writers in Paris led in the 1920's, he's actually taken back to that era every night at, well, midnight. If you're a fan of that era, it's hard not to get caught up in it with him. Come on, F. Scott Fitzgerald? Ernest Hemingway? Gertrude Stein? (played by Kathy Bates, because who else could do it, right?)

But by the end of the film we learn, as does the main character, that the dream life of the Lost Generation was more of a nightmare. The same can probably be said of the Saturday Club writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson who had to write everything longhand -- Emerson
the Inklings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien fame who pounded out their great works on typewriters -- the Bloomsbury crowd -- we're talking Virginia Woolf etc. --  who were brilliant and deeply messed up. We can dream of doing the whole Louisa May Alcott thing, writing through the night in the attic with a quill pen, yet we know the reality of the writing life is far less romantic.

And yet, we dream. We dream because writing is so much of what makes us ... us. We dream because the whole idea of writing powerful stories and profound non-fiction won't leave us alone. We dream because God inserts the gift and the desire right in our gut next to our hearts and livers and gall bladders (how's THAT for romantic?) We dream because we can't not.

So does that mean it's ridiculous to dream? If you ask your father who wants you to do something sensible so you can support yourself, or that CPA in your life who doesn't get it, yes, they'd say it was right up there with wearing stilettos to a basketball game.
But if you ask any person who loves to find just the right image (like "her eyes pearled with tears", which one of my clients recently wrote) -- who jots down notes on cocktail napkins when she hears that perfect phrase in the conversation (like, "I just wanted to chew glass," which another of my clients overheard and put into the mouth of a character) -- who wrings her hands until she knows how her story will end ... that person will tell you dreaming is the only thing that really makes sense.

So today we aren't going to stare the harsh realities in the face. That would be like looking in the mirror at 5:00 a.m., being horrified by what you see, and returning to bed, never to rise again. Today we're going to coax the dreams out and fluff them up and stand back and admire them. Today we're going to tell each other about them, admit that we have a vision of ourselves as authors and artists.  Hannah and me

Let's do that, here in our safe community. I'll go first:

I lived out my writing dream in the 90's and until the Great Recession of 2008. It dwindled until 2016 and withered after that. But God wouldn't leave it -- or me! -- alone and so it's been revived. I dream of writing four novels in what's called the Footnotes Collection. I want to pursue publication in the general market, something I haven't done. I want the collection to be part of my ongoing vision of  encouraging women in the living of spiritually creative lives. And I sure wouldn't mind doing some of that from St. Thomas, V.I. Just sayin'.

Tell us yours. You'll get no LOLs. No eye rolls. No head pats (does anybody actually do that?) You'll get support -- because if you dream crazy, you'll find the rest of us do too. 


    In many posts I'll call for certain things to use with upcoming topics. In the next two weeks, (by April 11) will you email me a picture of your writing space? It doesn't have to be a state of the art office. It may be a corner of your bedroom or the bag you pack to take to Panera where you writing table is always waiting. Just attach it to an email to me.

Now, literally Dream On.


Nancy Rue 


Welcome to DOORWAYS!!!


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And ALL women serious about the writerly life


Welcome to the Doorways community, Lady. You've just entered the let's-hang-out-and-dream-our-way-into-the-writing-future portion of the Doorways

Mentorship Program. You don't have to  be enrolled in that program to be part of THIS convivium, but if you're interested, go to From Shadow To Shelf website   for more info). Very newest logo


Where you are right now is the place to meet other female writers who have gotten serious not only about being career writers, but living the creative life.

  •   It's a safe house for not only sharing your dreams but learning how to go deep and discover them.

  •   It's a workshop for shaping your stories -- fiction and non-fiction.

Hannah doing research

  •   It's an on-going seminar on crafting a career.

  •   It's a circle of trust for sorting out the life challenges that come with being a creative being.

In this place, you'll have regular opportunities to show excerpts from your work and find out about retreats and intensives.




EVERY time you visit, you'll receive the best I can offer from my 36 years as a career author and as a companion on the way -- because I, too, am discovering dreams, shaping stories, continually crafting my career and learning how better to live from my God-made soul.


Me at Sentient Bean


We hope you'll subscribe so you don't miss a single post. And we want you to reply to the weekly question which is always in red. This is a safe place. No one will critique you, judge you or tell you you're a flake. We're all about encouragement here -- honest, authentic and, well, convivial.




Now ... just open that door. And let us know you're here. Tell us a little bit about you. Ask whatever is on your mind. And check in next Wednesday for a brand new post. Love to have you.



Nancy Rue

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