Tag Archives: Writing Fiction for Dummies

Challenge Update, June 2019

1 Jul

Not great progress, but I’m still moving forward! June has been a crazy busy month and I think it will continue through the summer. We’ve got a lot to pack into these warm months and we’re not wasting a minute of it. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in June:

Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy (4/5)
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (4/5)
Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens (3/5)

I’m trucking through a long audiobook in my car so I’m not surprised to see two physical books on here, but it makes me happy to make some progress with printed books!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

8/12
I was excited to see that Lair of Dreams would fill in the 1920-1939 time period for me! I love that time period and being able to fill it with such a fun book was a great way to explore my favorite decade.

Goodreads Challenge

31/52
I’m slowing down, but I’m still moving forward. I don’t think I’ll have trouble finishing this one in time. I’ll start flying through audiobooks again soon, too.

Book of the Month

Because of how helpful it was, I have to pick Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. I learned a lot about developing characters and how to structure my novel.

Added to my TBR

I’m up again for the second month in a row and it hurts. I’m up a total of three to 77.

  • Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian. This is a book club selection for the fall. The author is local to our area!
  • Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray. I need to keep moving forward with this series! Just two to go.
  • Liam and Heidi by Jason Alpert. One of my writers’ group members published his book! We’re all so excited.
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. After her first book, I have to see what else Morgenstern has up her sleeve!

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Finish 70.3 Half Ironman: Going OK. I’ve had some knee pain that’s stopped me from most running and biking. I did a sprint triathlon last week and it went well but it set me back a bit in my recovery. The race will happen before my next post so we’ll see!
  • Attend six weddings: Two down four to go! Another this coming weekend and then a break until August.
  • Finish a weather blanket: I haven’t touched this in a while but I’m not too far behind. I have the data, I just need to do the knitting!
  • Write: This got redirected. After reading Writing Fiction for Dummies, I realized I needed a bit more of a re-write than I thought. I’m working through that now and will have to reconsider sending it to agents after that.
  • See my friends more: The weddings are helping with this. I’m finally seeing a light at the end of the triathlon tunnel when I can be really good at this.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2019, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Writers Group: Dummies and Publication

24 Jun

I’m always glad to share my writers’ group experiences and I’m even more excited because I shared this time. I had just finished reading Writing Fiction for Dummies and I’m excited to share it with you all (different from the review, I promise) as well as what I learned from some other books.

I knew Randy Ingermanson from the Snowflake Method, the guide he has for writing novels. I never liked that idea too much and I felt it was too rigid to help me create the first draft. But what he was able to convey in Writing Fiction for Dummies was how to use the Snowflake Method to turn the first draft into a second draft. The two biggest things for me were giving weak characters conflicting morals. I have a weak character that I’m struggling to add depth to and I’ve been brainstorming morals for her that could come into conflict through the story. The other piece of advice I loved was about creating a scene list. It’s a great exercise to take your existing work and make a list of the scenes. I’m looking at it now and trying to figure out where my ‘three disasters’ are and how I can pace them for the two leads to keep the tension going. I liked his wording of the ‘three disaster structure’ rather than a ‘three act structure.’ It helped me see how the novel was paced. Disaster 1 ends Act 1, Disaster 2 is the middle of Act 2, and Disaster 3 ends Act 2 and sets the stage for Act 3.

The other thing I shared was my adventures with the Writers’ Digest publications. I recently checked out Writer’s Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. It was a bit of overkill and I wanted to help my fellow writers avoid the repetition in the future. Novel & Short Story (N&SS) had literary agents, publishers, and magazines and I think this would have been enough for me. Literary Agents had agents and conferences, which is the one thing N&SS lacked. Writer’s Market had everything. It had more than I needed if I’m being honest. I didn’t really look at it because it came in last at the library. Which one you want is going to depend on what kind of writing you have, but I think N&SS is the best resource for anyone with fiction writing.

We had a very exciting announcement at our meeting. One of our writers, Jason Alpert, has self-published his first book! He brought a copy for us all to see and we are so excited for him. It’s called Liam & Heidi and there’s a Goodreads giveaway going on right now so rush on over! He used the Amazon platform for publishing and is excited to engage with Goodreads for marketing purposes. He told us about using UpWork and Fiverr for his formatting and cover design.

It’s always a pleasure to meet with this group and we’re so excited to celebrate each other’s successes. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy (4/5)

20 Jun

I went through a period of adding a lot of writing craft books to my TBR. I think it’s fate that I’m just now getting to them as I’m ready to send my first manuscript out to agents. Reading this one actually made me pause and reconsider a re-write of my plot to make it stronger. This was the right find at the right time.

Cover image via Goodreads

Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy

Summary from Goodreads:

So you want to write a novel? Great! That’s a worthy goal, no matter what your reason. But don’t settle for just writing a novel. Aim high. Write a novel that you intend to sell to a publisher.

Writing Fiction for Dummies is a complete guide designed to coach you every step along the path from beginning writer to royalty-earning author. Here are some things you’ll learn in “Writing Fiction for Dummies”

* Strategic Planning: Pinpoint where you are on the roadmap to publication; discover what every reader desperately wants from a story; home in on a marketable category; choose from among the four most common creative styles; and learn the self-management methods of professional writers.

* Writing Powerful Fiction: Construct a story world that rings true; create believable, unpredictable characters; build a strong plot with all six layers of complexity of a modern novel; and infuse it all with a strong theme.

* Self-Editing Your Novel: Psychoanalyze your characters to bring them fully to life; edit your story structure from the top down; fix broken scenes; and polish your action and dialogue.

* Finding An Agent and Getting Published: Write a query letter, a synopsis, and a proposal; pitch your work to agents and editors without fear.

Writing Fiction For Dummies takes you from being a “writer” to being an “author.” It can happen–if you have the talent and persistence to do what you need to do.

There was a lot of good advice packed into this book. I picked up a lot about self-editing and thinking about my character arcs. I knew one of my characters was weak, but I didn’t have a solid idea of how to make her stronger. This book helped. I hadn’t done too much editing when it came to my plot structure and scene order, but this book gave me some direction on how to go about doing that and I’m now in the process of cutting and combining scenes to make for a stronger plot.

I thought the chapters on plot structure were the most helpful for me. Seeing how you could take a story and apply the three-act structure to it hit a lot harder with this book than it had when I got lectures about it before. They used some classic novels to show how the structure applied and give examples of a ‘disaster’ and a ‘first act’ that made it pretty clear that while there is a formula for fiction, it’s applied so many different ways that it’s not formulaic.

I felt that the writers pushed writing conferences harder than was necessary. I gathered that Ingermanson met his agent at one so he’s a strong believer, but it seems like a huge expense for people who write as a hobby. I’m interested in going to one (it looks like they’re one in Detroit and one in Windsor I can look at) but I’m still going to try getting an agent by a query.

Ingermanson is very convinced that people can be taught the art of writing. I’m still concerned about my word-by-word voice and style. I’d hate to write a whole book, edit it, and then realize that I haven’t developed my voice strongly enough for the writing to be good. That’s part of why I write this blog. It helps just to get words on a screen, no matter if they’re book reviews, off-topic posts, or the book I so desperately want to write. I have to just keep writing and eventually, I can learn how to structure a book and by then, I should have the voice all worked out.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think most writers could find something useful in this book. Ingermanson and Economy are often pointing out the ‘rules’ and they are quick to remind you that all rules can be broken. One of their biggest warnings is against head-hopping but I just realized the audiobook I’m listening to head hops and it works great! They would probably shrug and admit that it happens. As much as there are rules, they are made to be broken by those who know how to break them. Ingermanson and Economy set rules for amateur writers and then let you know that you’ll grow. It was a really encouraging book.

Overall, solid help for the wannabe writer. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 19-June-2019

19 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I tried but still made minimal progress in Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. I’m fine with it being a slow go, really. I should pick shorter ebooks, though…
I was able to renew A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin for another few weeks. I’m being optimistic about how many disks I’ll get through.
Still on hold with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.
I’m very close to finishing Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray! I’m enjoying this one a lot and I’m only a little nervous about a plotline that’s a bit similar to my own novel. I’m hoping it’s still dissimilar enough to be unique.
I’ve just started Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens and I’m trying to get through as much as possible quickly! I’m a little nervous about finishing this one in time but I’ll stay focused.

Recently finished: I renewed Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy and was able to finish it just past the renewal date. Phew! I’m so glad I read this one, it was really helpful and gave me some good ideas for how I’m going to edit my novel. I thought it was ready to submit, but now I’m thinking I need to do at least one more draft before it’s ready to send off. I should have a review for this one up either tomorrow or early next week.

Reading Next: I’m going to start my next book club selection on audio as soon as I can’t so I’m not crunched for time again next month. Our net pick is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. I have no idea what it’s about but I think it’s our non-fiction selection for the year. I always end up liking these more than I thought I would.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-June-2019

12 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made a point of reading Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min during two lunches last week. I think I’m finally past the halfway point! Only a few more months to go…
I passed disk 20 of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. It’s great and I’m adoring it, but it feels like such an uphill battle with how long it is.
Nothing with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, still on hold.
I made good progress with Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray because of my runs this past week. I had to renew it, but there won’t be a need for a second renewal to be sure.
I have to return Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy today or tomorrow. I’m racing to finish it. Wish me luck!

Recently finished: Second week in a row of nothing. I hope I can break the streak soon!

I did post my review of Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime so there’s that at least! This break in finishing books has finally let me catch up on reviews.

Reading Next: I’m a bit nervous that I won’t start Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens soon. I need to have it finished by the end of the month and I’ve been really slow with physical books lately. I’m hoping it sweeps me away and I finish it in no time!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-June-2019

5 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I keep thinking I’ making good progress on Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min but I’m moving forward so slowly! I’ll get there eventually, I’m sure, but it’s slow going with my short lunches.
I’ll keep pushing forward with A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I’m loving it, so it’s no problem, just a bit sad when I see how much more I have to get through still.
Still holding on A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I look at it longingly on my bedside daily.
I’m moving forward with Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray and am about halfway done. The biggest problem with this book is that it’s so creepy that I get scared if I’m running in the dark while I listen to it!
I wish I was reading Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson faster, but this week was very busy and I have no such luck. I’ll try again next week.

Recently finished: Nothing new this week. Everything was so busy that I’m not surprised, but I wish I had more to report. Maybe next week? Maybe?

The bright side is that I’m getting caught up on reviews! I posted my review of Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi last week. Please check it out!

Reading Next: I hope to start Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens soon. It’s not one I’m really excited about, but a reader in our group highly recommended it, so there’s that to look forward to.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-May-2019

29 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made an effort to keep moving through Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min again. Eventually, this will pay off and I’ll have it finished. But I’m enjoying the ride as I go. It’s not a bad book, just a slow read for me.
I’m on my final renewal of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. There’s no way I’ll finish it in time, but I’ll make a grand effort. I’m hoping I can go in and show them I still have it and get it renewed again a few more times before I have to give it up.
I was really enjoying A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers but I’m going to have to put it aside for a bit. I’ve got some books with deadlines that are pressing on my time and I know I’ll come back to this one when I can.
My new audiobook is Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, the second installment of the Diviners series. I read the first in this series a while back so it’s a bit of a struggle to remember what happened and keep up. It’s a fun story, though, and I’m enjoying it.
I picked up Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson on Friday and decided to jump in so I can finish well before the due date. There’s no renewal on this one since it’s part of the Interlibrary Loan system. So far, it’s a nice review but I haven’t picked up on anything that’s going to make me stop and fix my own novel. I guess that’s a good thing?

Recently finished: I finished the audiobook for Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and absolutely loved it. I learned a lot about growing up in South Africa and how people interact there. It’s not a country I’d ever given much thought to outside of Mandela so I’m really glad I read this. Not to mention Noah’s amazing narration and humor shine through.

I did get one review posted (yes, I’m very behind on them). I posted my review of Exit West by Mohsin Hamid on Thursday. Please check it out when you can. I enjoyed the book a lot and my book club has since met to discuss it so I’m excited to continue the conversation.

Reading Next: My next book club selection is Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens. I was sad to be unable to find this one on audio so it will be my next physical read and means I’m keeping Genius on the backburner for just a bit longer.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 22-May-2019

22 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I struggled to read some of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min this week. It’s not uninteresting, it’s just my lunch book and slow going because of that. I’ll get through it, no worries.
I’m about a third of the way through A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. With the show now over, I’m getting ravenous to get more out of the world. I want to be caught up when Martin finally releases the next book. I guess I’m hoping for a different ending.
I got through a chunk of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers on a flight this past weekend. Yes, I’m traveling again. I’m going to use it to my advantage and get through as many books as possible!
I’m making good progress on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. He’s a great storyteller and I’m loving all the stories of his childhood and growing up in South Africa. I guess my education is seriously lacking when it comes to apartheid so I’m learning a lot.

Recently finished: Nothing new finished this week. It was a slow week of progress, I guess. I’m optimistic Noah will be here next week.

I had two reviews go up this week! The first was for Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton. It wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed if I’m being honest. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn’t. I gave it Two out of Five Stars.
The second was The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob. This one was really fun and I enjoyed the story a lot more than I thought I would. The story was sufficiently complicated to keep me going and I liked the dual timelines. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m still waiting on Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson to come in from the library. I’m sure it will be here just when I’m not ready for it. Life always happens that way, doesn’t it? I should expect it by now.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 15-May-2019

15 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made a point to read more of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min during my lunches this week. I got through another chapter and then some so I’m happy with the progress. I knew this would be slow going so I’m not worried about it.
I’m taking small bites out of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I’m not yet a third done, but I’ll keep going steadily. I don’t mind drives right now and I’m taking the time to enjoy it as it comes.
I started on A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and I’m hoping I can finish fast. I have a trip out of town next weekend and I don’t like to take signed books out of the house. I might just have to power through, though. I don’t think it will be much of a chore.
I’ve just started Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I adore Noah on The Daily Show and I’ve liked the stand-up I’ve seen from him. I even watched his documentary on getting started in comedy in South Africa and enjoyed that. I’m really excited about this, to say the least!

Recently finished: I wrapped up Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi this week. It was a short book but it hit me hard! I thought after reading several other accounts of survival in concentration camps, I knew what I was getting into. But Levi kept shocking me. He was in the camp for a long time and his memory is very vivid. I’m glad he wrote this haunting book, the world needs to remember the atrocities we are capable of.
I also finished Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. I should have guessed that I’d finish it in a week but it still came as a surprise to me. I liked this one a lot and the bit of magical realism didn’t bother me too much. I usually hate it, but this wasn’t too overwhelming. My book club meets in a few weeks to discuss so expect a few more posts on this going forward.

I only got one review up this week which means I’m slipping seriously behind. I posted my review of The Power by Naomi Alderman last Thursday. It was very OK to me, nothing that blew me away. My book club met earlier this week to discuss so I’ll be sharing some more thoughts soon.

Reading Next: It seems too early to pick another book to read. I guess I’ll have to pick. I’m working through books that will need an Interlibrary Loan when I can so I’ve put in a request for Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson. I’ve yet to be let down by the ‘Dummies’ series and it seems like a good time for this one. With my manuscript being wrapped up, I need to start another and I’m a bit lost on how to go about it this time. I’m hoping for a bit of inspiration.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!