Category Archives: Announcing

K. M. Weiland’s just-out book on Novel Structure is not to be missed

Katie's new bookDo you struggle with structure when writing a novel? Do you find the subject confusing at times. If so, here’s a book that can help.

I have read the first two chapters and have spot read here and there throughout the rest.  Enough that I can confidently highly recommend this book to all novelists, beginning or otherwise.

K.M. writes with a reader-friendly clarity and a lovely prose that is a joy to read, and there are significant insights on every page.

I have read awesome books on structure.

For example, John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story, with its 22 steps and abundant detail–like reading an epic–and Larry Brook’s  Story Structure–Demystified and his Story Engineering. These books are on my shelf or in my Kindle.  Both are brilliant and complex. But Weiland’s book adds a lot of important points and perspectives.

Plus, Ms. Weiland has a gift for making the complex readily-understood.

Her book has come along at the time that I am preparing for a thorough rewrite of my novel, so just in time. My reading of her introduction and first two chapters have excited me about how much her book will contribute to my writing success.

Throughout this book she uses two novels and two movies as examples to further clarify the content of each chapter.

Those are: Pride and Prejudice, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and the films: It’s a Wonderfuol Life and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. This is important because these well-known and fleshed-out examples help to further make plain and practical the content of each chapter.

The first half of the book (a bit over half) addresses structure, and covers each key point thoroughly, including the all-important First Plot Point, each major section, and also Pinch Points (in which the antagonist, person or force, gets center-state-emphasis in a well built novel).

The second half of the book deals with scene structure (scene and sequel) and at the end even some on sentence structure.  Both contain helpful  wisdom from a practicing novelist. I especially am glad Weiland deals with sequel because I consider it a tricky element of scene work. Contemporary novels and stories, as I have read them, do not devote a lot of space to sequels, wherein the protagonist ponders his next move.

So to all you novelists, published or not, and first timers: I highly recommend this book.

P.S. You can download the introduction and first two chapters from Amazon to your Kindle here:

You can also read a summary of her main novel structure points here at the Write to Done blog:


Do you write by the rules?

A review of the “Simple Writing, Straight Talk for Smart Writers” blog.

Do you want good advice?

Do you feel you need good advice about writing? Would you welcome a skilled editor’s help now and then.  I know I would.

I appreciate the fact that there are available right now excellent books and blogs on writing well. When I started writing years back, there weren’t that many really good books on the subject to be had.

First, I forget most of the rules.

Often I do not write by the rules. That is in my first draft, when I dash it off rather intuitively, when I don’t want to be inhibited by worrying about getting it just right. Not at first. But when it comes to good writing advice, I always welcome it.

Revising is another story.

To me, I need those “rules”–call them guidelines–when I am editing my writing. I can’t go out every other month and hire a pro editor to read my writing and offer advice. So for the most part, I need to know what to look for in my writing that stands in need of careful revision or downright re-writing. Nevertheless, I am in favor of hiring a good editor to checkout any serious writing for publication.

Back to the blog: the Simple Writing blog offers sound and sensible tips and techniques that make for good writing. It is primarily focused on nonfiction writing, although much of the content certainly applies to fiction writing too. I find its balanced and knowledgeable approach practical and pleasing. We all need to know to write well, of course, in whatever niche we target, including nonfiction.

Why bother with another blog on writing?

I have been writing for a while, and if you are reading this blog, you probably have been too. So why bother with a blog that calls itself “Simple Writing”? I can‘t speak for you, but I find that when I am tempted to think I don’t need more writing advice, that’s when I seem to get into the most trouble. Like when I have reached the point with a writing project where I can’t figure out how to improve it more. Hence, I like to read sensible and reliable sources that reinforce essential points re good writing in my memory.

Need to improve your blog writing?

The Simple Writing blog is a fine one for improving your own blog writing too, which is essential to developing a platform, which in turn is essential  to getting published or self-publishing successfully these days.

Here are some of the recent post titles:

  • “25 editing tips for your writer’s toolbox”
  •  “41 Hot Blogs Every New Blogger Should Know”
  •  “Personification: good for writing not weather”
  •  “The only way to get over fear”
  •  “3 great ways to get those creative juices flowing”

About the blog’s author…

The author is Leah McClellan is  a writer and copyeditor who’s mission is to help other writers develop their craft. She offers a free 6-week mini writing course: “The Fast Track to Polished Prose.” I checked it out, and it looks good. In brief, she knows her stuff.

Her course  will be a good refresher for me and could be for several of you, my readers, too. Wink

Highly recommended.

What advice would you offer to a writer young in her craft?

Story Writers: Don’t Miss KM Weiland’s Latest on Sequels

It her most recent post, KM Weiland tackles sequels, their importance and how-tos.

Sequels are rarely explained this well. Too often they are forgotten or neglected or shied away from.

They are vital part of story writing.

Find her post here:

Highly recommended.

An Interview with Ali Luke, Part Two

In Part 2 of the interview with Ali Luke the topics include her writing community “The Writers’ Huddle,” improving your writing, and her novel Lycopolis

The Writers’ Huddle

Recently you created “The Writers’ Huddle” online community.  And as you know, I  myself am an active member of that community. I’ve found it to be a warm and courteous group of writers, who are not afraid to give their honest opinions and are also generous in sharing what they know.  Almost immediately, I was able to get some insightful critiques of my writings-in-progress.

You started with about 100 members, but you also very recently opened it up to new subscribers.

  • Please describe its features and tell us how it’s going?

Writers’ Huddle is a community and teaching site, so as well as the forums for members to interact, there’s lots of content to help writers out. That includes:

–        Mini-courses aimed at beginners, or people who want a refresher, in particular areas (MS Word, blogs, fiction)

–        Monthly seminars, either with me or with guest speakers

–        Monthly Q&A sessions to answer members’ questions

–        The full On Track ecourse, which I’ve added to the package this time round

It’s going very well, I think! It’s been great to see members interacting in the forums, although I know that there are quite a lot of members who never use the forums and who are just there for the teaching content.

  • What is some of the positive feedback you’ve received?

I had lots of lovely comments when I ran a survey of the original members. The webinar with Seth Leonard got lots of great feedback (sadly, I can’t really take much credit for that..!) and many people have said how much they’re enjoying the Huddle community.

  • Have you yourself, personally, found it a rewarding experience.

Definitely. There’s something special about leading a community like this; I feel that I’ve been able to bring together something really worthwhile. Writers’ Huddle is the sort of site that I wish I’d belonged to when I started out!

And on a more mercenary note … having regular membership payments makes it easier for me to plan things financially, and it also means I can concentrate on producing content for the Huddle rather than thinking about how to sell it in the form of ebooks or individual courses.

  • I know you have been adding fresh material constantly (you must spend your weekends brainstorming!), so where do you see the community going in the near future?

I’m really excited about On Track, because I’d love to see members making some great process on bigger projects – I know some already are, but I’ve heard from quite a few others who are struggling a bit. I’d also like to create and publish an anthology of members’ work, probably this summer, as that’s something that most survey respondents were interested in.


Writing improvement

  • How about building your content to help your readers learn to write better?

I try to give specific examples wherever I can; I think this makes it much easier for people to “get” what I’m explaining. I also try to split posts up for easy reading, using subheadings, bold text, and so on, and I’ll often give clear action steps. Most of my readers are already pretty good writers, but I want to help them take things even further.

  •  If someone were to ask you, How can I become a better writer?— what would you advise them to do? What specific activities do you think could accelerate learning most?

Read a lot, and read widely. I think every writer will tell you that! And write, too; not necessarily every day, but on a regular basis. You can’t become a better writer without regular practice. Write for a clear purpose (e.g. aim to get a letter published in a magazine, or a guest post onto a big blog) – there’s nothing wrong with doing morning pages or journal writing, but you also need to be thinking about getting your work to a publishable standard.

Edit after you write. That means two things: don’t edit while you’re trying to get the first draft down, and don’t neglect editing altogether. No-one writes a perfect first draft – half the work of writing is in the editing.

  •  Some writers who have written on writing in books and on blogs, have advised readers to–for learning purposes—to  mimic or imitate the style of writers they admire. Do you agree with that advice?  If yes or no, why?

I think it can be a fun exercise, and if you’re guest posting, it’s useful to shift your style to suit the blog you’re writing on. (For instance, Copyblogger tends to use punchy, chatty language and short sentences and paragraphs; I try to do the same when I’m writing for them.)

There’s a bit of a danger, though, of ending up unintentionally mimicking other writers when you’re trying to compose your own material. So if you are going to do this exercise, I’d suggest trying out a wide range of styles, not just imitating one particular writer.


  • It seems such a short while ago that you published your novel Lycopolis. How is it doing?

I brought out the ebook version in November 2011, and the paperback in April 2012. Sales have been slower than I’d hoped – it’s a lot harder to market fiction than non-fiction – but the reviews and other feedback have been fantastic. So I’m hoping that, with more work from me on the marketing, the sales will start to pick up.

  • How is your book tour going?

It’s been a bit more work than I’d expected! As well as writing the posts themselves (which is great fun), there’s also the organizing side of things, and replying to comments. These elements are fun too, but they’ve been taking up a fair bit of mental energy.

In terms of results … probably too early to say. I’ve definitely seen an increase in sales, just not such a dramatic one as I might have liked!

  • I know you have a sequel in the works. Care to share any hints about the story?

I do, and I’ve got around 55,000 words of very scrappy first draft on the sequel. I can’t tell you much without spoilers, but I can tell you that this time, the story involves a pleasure demon rather than one of nightmares…

Thanks so much, Ali, for your time and for sharing some fascinating details.

It’s been a pleasure, Bill! Thanks for lots of thought-provoking questions. 🙂


You can find Ali’s work here:[AL1]

Recent Guest Posts:

Recent Book Tour Stops:






Coming Tomorrow: Part One of an Interview with Ali Luke

Read Part One tomorrow of an enlightening interview with successful blogger, writing coach and novelist Ali Luke, author of and creator of “The Writers’ Huddle” community for writers.

You may have noticed one of her several guest posts on the Write to Done and Men with Pens blogs, and others.  She is currently on a virtual tour, promoting her supernatural thriller Lycopolis.

Join us for some intriguing insights on blogging and her writing life.

My Nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated by the capable and hardworking Sandra (My Writing  Challenge) for this award. Thank you, Sandra.

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

# 1 has been accomplished (Whew!)

So, I’d better get going with #2…

7 things about myself:

1.  I turned 70 last January.  That ought to be enough right there.

2.  I have been painting watercolors for nearly 35 years now.

3.  I have been writing all my adult life and still find it rewarding and challenging.

4.  I used to be a rock climber, when younger, more daring, and definitely more fit.

5.  In my main undergraduate college work, I majored for the first two years in music.  Piano and voice.  So like Sandra I play piano too.  But unlike her I don’t presently have one.  I hope to fix that regrettable situation one of these days.

6.  I have a master’s degree in divinity (New Testament Greek major), which unfortunately doesn’t make me divine–or even necessarily look divine, but I have my moments.

7.  I have two daughters, two sons-in-law, 6 grandchildren, a big black female Labrador that goes by the name of ‘Shadow,” and a cat named “Mr. Wuggles” (not my name firs t choice).  I used to have a parakeet or three, but that’s another story.

My nominations for this award are–and as Sandra put in, in no particular order:

1.   Ali Luke (Aliventures), novelist, writing coach, and freelancer, and probably the smartest gal on the Internet. Also creator of a fine community of writers, The Writers’ Huddle, which is constantly a help to me.

2.  Sandra Madeira  (My Writing  Challenge)–she deserves to be nominated twice.

3.  K. M. Weiland (Wordplay)–winner two years in a row of the Top Ten Blogs for Writers award two years in a row.  She too deserves to win again. Wonderful posts on fiction writing wisdom.

4.  Amy Deardon (Amy Deardon), novelist, blogger, and author of The Story Template, an excellent book on novel/story writing. I’m reading and enjoyng her novel A Lever Long Enough, as well as the Story Template book.

5. Ruth Zive (Ruth Zive Copywriting), who is not only a dynamite copywriter but also a generous and adept teacher of the craft with her constant and insightful posts.

6.  Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn), also novelist, writing coach, and blogger who continually offers a mountain of good info to authors and would-be authors on fiction writing and publishing.

7.  A. Victoria Mixon (Victoria Mixon), an all around nice gal who is a savvy writing editor and coach, with years of experience, who also shares insightful interviews with notable writers and has a lot to say on the subject of quality fiction herself.


Now to notify all these people…

Check out my Guest Post at Write to Done

I consider this guest post one of my best posts on writing well.  It’s about keeping your reader in mind, keeping your purpose in mind, and reminding yourself that there are only 3 directions you can go when you’re writing.

It’s up today at: Write To Done.  Title:  “Reader to Writer: Hey Dude, Clear it up!”

A special word of thanks to Mary Jaksch who graciously worked with me on the A-list Blogger Club forum on important revisions to my guest post.