Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September Tooele Writer's Group

On Thursday September 18, members of Tooele Writers gathered in the Tooele library to discuss critique groups. Laura Bastian, president of the writer’s group, gave the presentation.

Information included a list of critique-group how-tos from   The full list can be found online here, but some of the ideas were to establish the type of writing the critique group would accept, including the necessary formatting.  Avoiding cliquishness, giving the types of critiques you would like to receive and focusing on the story elements (dialogue, plot holes, character development, etc.) are also important.

Some critique groups use a timer to keep discussions manageable and fair.

One of the most important things to remember when joining a critique group is to ask the group to answer questions about the things you’re looking for.

Laura also showed the group how to use some items of the review section in Microsoft Word. Besides simple ‘track changes,’ authors can merge the comments they get back from beta readers into one document and use the ‘accept’ and ‘reject’ features to sift through the comments they want to keep or delete.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fun at the Tooele Writer's Meet and Greet night in July

On July 18, members of Tooele Writer’s Group gathered at the pavilion next to the pool for a public meet-and-greet-the-author night. Several authors brought books to sign.

While the public and authors came and went as they pleased, the authors (and their books) that were present at 6:00 P.M. are listed below.

If you attended, please comment on this post. If you’re a Tooele Writer’s Group author but not listed, please let us know what you’re working on and/or what books you have published.  If you’re not a writer, please let us know—what did you like about what you saw? What other thoughts do you have you’d like to share with us?

 6:00 P.M. Sampling:
  • Scott Bryan, author of Night Children: Dark Birth and Night Children: Dark Threats
  • Lucinda Whitney, author of contemporary LDS romance set in Portugal, with works scheduled to come out next year
  • Holli Anderson, YA urban fantasy/paranormal fiction author of Five Out of the Dark and Five Out of the Pit, published by Curiosity Quills Press
  • Konstanz Silverbow, author of Missing Royal and Only Half Alive
  • Karen E. Hoover, author of The Sapphire Flute, The Armor of Light, The Emerald Wolf, Two souls are Better than One, and Newtimber: Fractured
  • Celeste Hansen, author of historical romance, YA and children’s fiction
  • Frank Shafer, author of historical fiction
  • Gwen Bristol, fantasy, general fiction and creative nonfiction
  • Laura Bastian, author of Eye on Orion and Guardians of the Gate

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meet the Authors of Tooele County

Tooele is full of talent. 

In the five years I've been involved in the writing community, I've seen so much talent in our little area. We've got a handful of authors who are published.  Both traditionally, as well as independently. One thing that impresses me about authors, is how friendly they are, and how genuinely interested they are in seeing each other succeed. 

Though I've been involved mostly in writing genre fiction in the Young Adult and Middle Grade fantasy categories, I know we have lots of people interested in Non Fiction, Poetry, Short stories, and many others. 

We want to expand our group and welcome anyone with an interest in writing to check us out. We are a Chapter of the League of Utah Writers, and being a due paying member offers lots of benefits. However, we welcome anyone to our meetings.  If you're interested in becoming a member of the League, check out this link.

We typically meet the 3rd Thursday of each month at 6:30 to 8:00 at the Tooele City Library. 

We have a mailing list for information about the chapter and events happening.

We have a Facebook page where we share writing tips and get help and feedback on a variety of topics. 

In the comments you'll see information from a variety of authors connected to our group.  Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions or are interested in joining. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

June Meeting of Tooele Writers

In June, Tooele Writer’s Group had a pot-luck picnic dinner. The group was small, but the chatting was as fun as always!

Here's one of the fun recipes from that night:

Home-Made Guacamole, and Layered Dip—from Cindy Ferriera Whitney

The guacamole is just mashed avocados with a pinch of salt and some lime juice.

For the layer dip, it's a layer of fat free refried beans at the bottom, fat free sour cream, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, chopped green bell peppers, sliced black olives, chopped cilantro, and shredded cheese.

Who else from Tooele Writers wants to share recipes? E-mail me at, and I'll put them up here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May meeting of Tooele Writers

This was a lot of fun and very informative. 

This past Thursday, members of Tooele Writers met to share and discuss what some learned from a recent LDS Storymaker’s conference.

Tiffany Shumway discussed how to outline novels using the information she learned in a workshop based on ‘Save the Cat!’ by Blake Snyder. In this system, books are organized into fifteen sections or ‘beats,’ as follows:

  1.       The Opening Image—this is where the tone and genre are set, and it’s the starting place for the protagonist. Generally, this should be a normal setting to begin with.
  2.       Theme Stated—a question is asked that has to be answered at the end. What is the question or dilemma in your story? The theme supports the main character’s arc.
  3.        Set Up—This is where all the pieces come into play, including a clear protagonist and antagonist and an idea of what’s wrong that needs to be fixed.
  4.        Catalyst—the wake-up call, in which something changes and moves the protagonist toward action.
  5.        The Debate—the protagonist experiences some self-doubt and wonders which way to go.
  6.         Break into Two—The  journey begins here. The old world is left behind with a strong definite change.  Authors should go into this section boldly.
  7.        The B Story—This is where a secondary story, often a romance, is introduced. New relationships are made which can seem like the opposites of old relationships.
  8.       Fun and Games—not so much fun for protagonists,  but readers love the fun and games section in which the conflict escalates and setbacks occur.
  9.       Midpoint—the protagonist experiences a false victory or a false failure. The stakes have been raised, and characters need to decide whether to fight or flee. A question to consider: what happens to characters to make them think everything is awesome or awful?
  10.        Bad Guys Close In—The character is in trouble in this section. The bad guys have regrouped, or the hero team is falling apart, or both, and opposition increases.
  11.       All Is Lost—this is a one-page, dramatic beat. The character is at an all time low, and something has to die here. They experience a false defeat or false victory (opposite of what happened in beat 9). What happens to make the characters think they cannot get what they want after all?
  12.       Dark Night of the Soul—this section is kind of the opposite of the Debate section listed earlier. The protagonist has to do some soul-searching to find a solution and decides to either give up or keep moving. Sometimes this section relies on wise words from another character.
  13.       Break Into Three—The character gets moving again and makes a last ditch effort to get what he/she wants.
  14.       Finale—A transformation has occurred. The character has a new attitude and some lessons learned, based on the experiences in the book so far. Both the main story and the B story are wrapped up here.
  15.       The Final Image—This is the opposite of what happened in the opening image.  Authors will show the end of the journey and how the characters have changed in this section.
Also, authors should brainstorm a title, a tagline and a pitch before they even begin to outline.

Next Cindy Whitney discussed her class from Lisa Mangum on voice and said Mangum was very clear that voice and style are not the same thing.

Voice is more about what you have to say than how you say it, but it’s also a way to portray your personality as a writer. It has to do with quality of writing and personal attitude. Mangum offered the acronym SING to help understand how to create a clear and distinct writing voice.

S=be SELECTIVE. Carefully choose the words you use, including varying the length of sentences. Also be selective about pacing, settings, dialogue, action, narration and characters, etc.

I=be  INTENSE. The point here is to evoke strong emotions. Think  about how you feel when you’re writing and try to stay true to that, and the emotions will come out with clarity and strength in the manuscript.

N=be NOTORIOUS. Find out what your characters are known for and how they want to be perceived. Also pick three adjectives to describe your writing (for example, snarky, fun and flirty) and aim to make all your writing like that. Laura Bastian pointed out that this could be a branding technique.

G=be GENUINE. Authors should be brave enough to say something. When you have something to say and you find the right words and the right stye your voice will ring true every time.

Finally, voice is a very personal thing.

Cindy also shared her notes on six mistakes authors make from a class she took from Kathy Gordon, managing editor at Covenant Communications. Here they are:
1.       Too much irrelevant detail or backstory
2.       Too many words—cut the story by 50%.
3.       Too many adjectives or adverbs
4.       Not enough strong verbs
5.       Marshmallow dialogue—too soft and squishy
6.       Get rid of outlandish names

Laura Bastian quickly covered her notes from the class she took from Brandon Sanderson on developing characters. Here's a quick list of some of the things that were covered: 
  • According to Sanderson, characters tell the story. Three things help determine the way your character will move through the story: how proactive they are, how competent they are, and how sympathetic they are. If you change these things, you can change your character’s personality in a believable way.
  • Show protagonists suffering to help readers develop empathy and stay in the story.
  • Give the characters flaws…not just simple handicaps, but something irritating.
  • Showing that other characters like a particular character makes that character more likeable in the reader’s eyes.
  • Removing friends from the protagonist shows anguish.
  • When you’re writing villains, up their competency and down their likeability.

At the end of the meeting, members discussed gesture crutches from a class taught by Jordan McCollom. While gestures and body language are necessary in writing, some things are overused. If you’re going to use a gesture, don’t use the first thing that pops into your head. Be creative and come up with a different gesture that can show the same emotion. Nods, head shakes, anything with eyes and eyebrows are overused. Use something unexpected.

Also, don’t use gestures too much to replace taglines. Some of this is okay. Just not all the time.


Tiffany Shumway has already posted links to several good 15-beat pages on the Facebook group for Tooele Writers, and Cindy Whitney posted one as well. Here they are:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March meeting of Tooele Writers

Two software programs were discussed Wednesday evening as members of Tooele Writers met to learn about novel writing software and how it can ease the writing and publishing process.

Krista Wayment, who tried several novel writing programs before she settled on YWriter5, presented her experiences during the first part of the meeting.

“This was the one I liked the best,” she said.

 During the last part of the meeting Cindy Whitney showed attendees how to use Scrivener.

“Things are organized as if you had a paper binder,” she said.

While both novel-writing programs simplify the creation and publishing process, they also have unique features that set them apart—especially when compared to simple word-processing programs.

In both programs:
  • As writers begin a work in either program, they can immediately organize their ideas into chapters and scenes (in Scrivener, chapters are called folders and scenes are called text).  This allows writers who plan to make detailed outlines in advance, while discovery writers can simply write scenes or text and organize them into chapters later.
  • The real writing is done in the text (Scrivener) or scenes (YWriter5). 
  • Both programs make it easy to import and export the entire project—or just a part of it.
  • Authors can view one scene at a time, one chapter at a time or the entire work at once.  Word counts for the part of the project being viewed are listed, as well.
  • Authors can view more than one scene at a time.
  • Writing can be viewed full-screen, and the backgrounds can be faded to eliminate distractions.

More on YWriter5:
  • In YWriter5, authors can add descriptions as they add chapters to the project. Later on those descriptions can be compiled in a report, creating a simple and immediate synopsis.
  • YWriter5 also allows authors to import outlines they’ve already created for projects they hope to work on, and YWriter5 allows authors to track what stage portions of their manuscript are in and mark them as outline, draft, done, etc.
  • Authors can rate four aspects of their writing they want to track (such as tension) for each section and view reports to help them identify whether those aspects are balanced through the manuscript.
  • Characters, locations and items can be highlighted and tracked in YWriter5, which means authors can see how balanced these things are in the story, as well, or find them quickly if they need to make changes.
  • There’s a read-aloud button for authors who want to relax and let the computer read their story back to them (or who use vocal readings during edits).
  • YWriter provides a story board option for helping organize manuscripts.
  • If authors write something and then decide not to use that particular piece, it can be toggled as unused rather than deleted, and the authors can come back to it later.
  • YWriter5 is free.

More on Scrivener:
  • This program has a fun color-coding system that helps authors keep track of things like point of view, chapters, scenes, front and back matter, etc.
  • Document notes to the right of the piece authors are working on allows them to immediately jot down new ideas or even place pieces of writing they cut out of the text.
  • The cork board—where scenes, chapters, etc. appear as if on index cards pinned to a cork board. Anything you move on the corkboard is automatically moved in the binder as well.
  • Authors can attach images to their index cards, too, and when the manuscript is compiled these will be compiled with it.
  • With project targets, writers can set goals for their total word count and word count per session.
  • When the project is completed and all folders, texts, etc. are in order, a simple click on the ‘compile’ button pulls it all together.
  • Scrivener manuscripts can be exported as Mobi files or Epub files, which simplifies self-publishing.
  • Scrivener costs $40, but Tooele Writers members can get it for 20% off until August 31, 2014. Contact Cindy Whitney on the Tooele Writers Facebook page if you have any questions about this.
  • Cindy provided three really great links for ways to use Scrivener. And here they are!

Google Drive was also mentioned in passing as a good tool for novel writing, although it wasn’t discussed during the meeting.

Thanks to Laura Bastian for hosting the meeting and to Krista Wayment and Cindy Whitney for presenting.