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Lori Rader-Day presents: Point of View, Your Story’s Foundation

Lori Rader-Day presents: Point of View, Your Story’s Foundation

“MWW Author Program with Lori Rader-Day” – Saturday, September 29, 2018, Kennedy Branch Library (1700 W. McGalliard), Muncie, Indiana, 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm. Program includes Lori’s discussion: “Point of View, Your Story’s Foundation”; an interview with Lori and Q&A; and a celebration of her newest novel, UNDER A DARK SKY.  Come and learn! Come for the community! Come be a literary citizen! {Just $25 — FREE copy of Under A Dark Sky included with registration!}

Program Schedule:

2:30-3:30 pm – Lori presents: Point of View, Your Story’s Foundation
Point of view isn’t just a she said/I said decision. Where you place a story’s point of view will decide how the story can be told, the tone and voice it will have, and how your reader will experience (and enjoy) your work. In this discussion on the importance of point of view, we’ll talk about the impact this one element has on all the others, including character, setting, theme, and more.

3:30-3:45 pm – Short break

3:45-4:45 pm – Interview and Q&A: ask her anything! Pick her brain for all kinds of writing advice.

What about  character?
What about setting?
What about theme?

4:45-5:30 pm – Autograph party!/fellowship

 

[Ball State Bookstore will have all four of Lori’s books for sale.]

Lori Rader-Day’s debut mystery, The Black Hour, won the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the 2015 Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second novel, Little Pretty Things, won the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and was a nominee for the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. Little Pretty Things was named a 2015 “most arresting crime novel” by Kirkus Reviews and one of the top ten crime novels of the year by Booklist. Her third novel, The Day I Died, was an Indie Next Pick and is a nominee for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the Barry Award. She studied journalism at Ball State University and now lives in Chicago.

Praise for Lori’s just released novel Under a Dark Sky:

“A brilliant concept, brilliantly told! Under a Dark Sky is a novel that you simply can’t put down…” -Jeffery Deaver, international number one bestselling author

“Lori Rader-Day is a modern day Agatha Christie: her mysteries are taut, her characters are real and larger than life, and her plots are relentlessly surprising. Under a Dark Sky is a stellar addition to her award-winning catalog. The closed door mystery echoes the claustrophobic atmosphere of Christie’s And Then There Were None, and there are enough breakneck twists to captivate modern readers. A dynamite late summer read!” -Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

 

Register here! Just $25!

{Limited space}

YA writers! Want to think like a teenager? Author Barbara Shoup can help!

Meet Mini-conference faculty Barbara Shoup!

Barbara Shoup is the author of eight novels, including  An American Tune, Wish You Were Here, and Looking for Jack Kerouac and the co-author of Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process. Her short fiction, poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous small magazines, as well as in The Writer and the New York Times travel section. She is recipient of the PEN Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer and the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, as well as numerous grants from the Indiana Arts Commission and the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Two of her YA novels were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. She is the Executive Director of the Indiana Writers Center and a faculty member at Art Workshop International.

During the MWW Super mini-conference hands-on Friday morning session, Barb will teach “YA: Think Like a Teenager.” When asked for advice about writing for children, Maurice Sendak responded, “I don’t write for children; I write as a child.” This workshop will bring out your inner-adolescent to help you identify and explore universal issues and events of adolescence that still resonate for you and offer strategies for shaping them into novels that appeal to kids today. Participants may send the first two pages (double-spaced/12 font) of their YA novel, and Barb will comment generally on what works and what…doesn’t. Email midwestwriters@yahoo.com with “Barbara Shoup YA submission” in subject line, postmarked by July 2 (or at least by the first week of July).

Barb will also teach a session “Writing Your Life.” Maybe you want to tell the stories of your life for your family, maybe you want to write them as a way of understanding the aspects of your life that shaped you and brought you to this moment. Maybe you want to explore the stories of your life for fiction. “No matter why you want to write about your life,” Barb explains, “this workshop will teach you how to identify the memories worth writing about and offer both exercises and inspiration guaranteed to help you write them down.”

Former MWW intern Caroline Delk asked Barb a few interview questions for some advice to the attendees and to help us learn a bit more about her as a writer and faculty member.

MWW: A lot of famous writers–Hemingway and Michener–always wrote in the morning because they said they were most creative before noon. How about you? When do you write? How long is a typical writing session? Do you take breaks? Are you a M-F writer or does your work spill over into the weekend, wee hours, Christmas, etc.

I write in the morning, before I do anything else. I usually get a couple of hours in before I have to start paying attention to the real world. I write most days, even weekends and holidays. Occasionally, I get lucky and can get away for a few days of nothing but writing, which is heaven. I’ve also done two-week residencies at Ragdale, which is super-heaven. A cozy room, the energy of fellow artists, and a fabulous meal every evening. It can spoil you! On these retreats, I might work as many as fourteen hours a day. The opportunity to work like that for a number of days in a row is especially helpful to a novelist because you live in the book, feel its rhythms, and have these moments when you hold the whole thing in your head and know exactly what you’re supposed to do. It’s amazing!

Part of becoming a writer, though, is figuring out what kind of writer you are and learning to work within the perimeters your life allows. Some people write best at night, some in the afternoon. Some people have obligations that dictate when they can write. Some write in spurts, some every day. Some set a timer and write until it goes off. Some set a word count for each day and write until they meet it. Whatever works is what you should do.

MWW: When you hit the wall and nothing is working on your computer screen, how do you clear your head and refresh? Do you power down and go to a movie, or do you just keep pounding the keys? Advice? 

I tend to try to power through, even when my sensible side tells me that I’m past the point of productivity. I’m not good at relaxation. Balance is not my strong suit. A story is a series of problems to solve, and I get so obsessed that I can’t rest until I’ve solved whatever problem I happen to be facing. I cluster, I freewrite. I make timelines and calendars and maps to help me see whatever I’m missing. I write at the top of the page: Who are you and what are you doing in my story–and let my character answer. I break down a scene I see in my mind’s eye but can’t seem to write into who/what/when/where/why and write about each one of those elements until I write “one true sentence” that finally sets the scene moving.

MWW: Novelist Sidney Sheldon once said he never had a character sit down at a restaurant and order dinner unless he (Sheldon) had eaten at that restaurant and ordered the same meal; he wouldn’t have a character wander the streets of a city unless he (Sheldon again) had roamed those same streets. Talk about research. How do you create a sense of place? Do you go on site, take notes, etc., or do you leave it to your imagination?

I think you owe it to your readers to make sure that everything about the world of your novel is as authentic as it can be. So I read everything I can get my hands on about whatever I need to know to make the story real. I watch movies; look at catalogues, photos, newspapers, and recipes; listen to music from the time. 

These days, with the wonder of the internet, you can do the research for a novel without visiting the places you’re writing about. But it is a great gift to be able immerse yourself in your characters’ world–and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that with my work. Standing where my characters stand, seeing what they see, I understand the boundaries of their existence in a visceral way. Being in the real world of a novel-in-progress enriches my imagination, and brings deeper, more sympathetic understanding of my characters’ struggles.

MWW: We’ve heard that a writer shouldn’t ask friends, family, and colleagues to read and make suggestions on a manuscript-in-progress. But we’ve also heard that a lot of successful writers have “beta readers.” What are they; what do they do; do you have one; and how can I find one?

My only rule for when and how to ask for feedback about your work is to be sure that you ask someone who is capable of understanding what you are trying to accomplish, capable of being objective, and knows enough about how stories work to be able to make useful observations. (This usually, but not always, excludes your mother and/or your best friend.) That’s all a beta reader is, really. I have several–some writers, some serious readers. I might ask them to read a novel-in-progress if I’m stuck and feel like I can’t see the novel clearly any more. More often, I wait until I finish a draft.

I also belong to a small writers’ group that meets every other week. Each of us brings whatever we’ve been working on since we last met–a story, an essay, a chapter of a novel. The regular meetings provide a kind of discipline: I don’t want to waste the opportunity for their input by not having something to bring. Ongoing critique of a work in progress often offers insights that shortcuts the process.

It’s important to develop your own personal community of writers, whether you communicate with them online or in person. Go to writers’ conferences, take classes, attend readings and other literary events, and keep an eye out for people who seem to be on your same wavelength. Invite them for coffee, talk about writing. In time, you’ll find the readers you need to help you see where your manuscript is working and where it needs improvement.

Come meet Barb!

To register for MWW Super-Mini, go here.

We have UPDATED the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.

To review the faculty bios, read here.

Do you wish to write in a way that touches readers and yourself?

That’s the question J. Brent Bill will discuss in his hands-on, small class session on Friday morning at MWW’s Super Mini-conference:

Writing from the Heart: Soulful Creativity – That’s the kind of writing that makes Anne Lamott’s essays, Phil Gulley’s Harmony tales, and Barbara Brown Taylor’s memoirs so appealing. Brent Bill’s own writing has been described by Publishers Weekly as being “Like a neighborly conversation across a kitchen table.” Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, you want to write from the heart and not just from the head. This workshop offers tips and techniques for connecting with your writer’s heart and how to put your heart on paper. You will spend time writing, using exercises that will help you uncover the deep themes and concerns that will bring your writing to life. Brent will also look at the practical side of getting such writing published.

With more than twenty books published since 1983, Brent has learned a thing or three about writing. His titles include Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace, Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment; and Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality. He’s also a writing coach, editor, photographer, and retreat leader. A MWW alumnus, Brent lives on Ploughshares Farm – fifty acres of Indiana farmland being reclaimed for native hardwood forests and warm season prairie grasses.

Former MWW intern Amanda Byk asked Brent a few interview questions to help us learn more about him as a writer and faculty member.

MWW: How do you get yourself psyched up for a writing session? Music? Meditation? Crossword puzzle? A full tank of high-octane coffee? Yoga? Or do you just sit down at the computer and have at it? Advice?

JBB: My intention is always to just sit down and get to it. But the truth is I usually spend time checking email and Facebook, going for a fresh glass of ice water, doing some “research” on Google, and the like. The typical writer’s procrastination tools. When I do start writing, I usually write one or two hours straight without much deviating from the actual writing. Having a deadline helps me focus and get right down to the task of writing without having to check email, play solitaire, and so forth.

MWW: Describe for me your “writing space.” Messy? What books are within arm’s reach? Laptop or desktop? Dedicated office, spare bedroom or dining room table?

JBB: I have a dedicated writing office on the second floor of our post and beam home. It has a window overlooking the woods and prairie. Floor to ceiling bookshelves line one wall — stuffed with everything including poetry, humor, religion, books on writing, autographed copies of books, books by friends, miscellaneous nonfiction, miscellaneous fiction, photography books, and more. The other long walls hold two file cabinets, a map chest (where I store my writing and photographic paper and photographic prints), and an oversize desk containing my computer, monitor, two printers, an external hard drive, and a scanner. The walls hold various art pieces, photographs I’ve taken, framed book covers, and other miscellany. In addition to books, the bookshelves also contain such arcane things as Old Quaker Whisky bottles, models of MGs and other cars I’ve owned, Mr. Bill figurines, and fighting Quaker puppet, and other silliness.

MWW: When you hit the wall and nothing is working on your computer screen, how do you clear your head and refresh? Do you power down and go to a movie, or do you just keep pounding the keys? Advice?

JBB: This rarely happens to me. Once I’m in the flow, the words and sentences usually come easily. On those occasions where I’m stuck, I will either go for a walk in our woods and think or I’ll fire up the John Deere 790 and go do some farm work. Certain farm chores involving the tractor allow me to work on two planes at the same time — one paying attention to the tractor work and the other allowing my mind to problem solve my writing issue. They’re both work, but call for solutions from different parts of my brain. My family jokes that I write some of my best stuff whilst on the tractor.

MWW: For writers who are unsure about which classes to attend at the July Super Mini-conference, what criteria should they use in making their choices? 

JBB: One obvious piece of advice is to attend a workshop that most closely aligns with the kind of writing you want to do. A second, and I think just as valuable, is to sign up for a workshop completely outside of your primary interest. I did that when I signed up for my first MWW conference in the late 1980s — a poetry workshop. I like poetry, but had no intention of writing any poetry. The instructor, Mary Brown, was insightful and her exercises and information on writing poetry were very helpful to my writing (and by then I’d written six books). The lessons I learned in that class took my writing deeper in ways that I doubt any other course could have.

MWW: Can you tell us more about what your Friday session will be about? What can writers expect to come away with from it? 

JBB: There’s been an explosion in spiritual writing of late. While the number of mainstream Christian periodicals has declined, new publications have sprung up. My own spiritual writing has appeared in places as diverse as Quaker magazines, AARP: The Magazine, and Sufi Journal. In this workshop, we’ll spend some talking about the kind of spiritual writing participants want to do and then look at possible outlets that would fit their writing.

Come meet Brent!

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To register for MWW Super-Mini, go to www.midwestwriters.org

Scholarship application information (postmarked June 15), here.
_______________________________________________________________
We have UPDATED the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.
To review the faculty bios, read here.

Writing from the Dreamscape and Other Avenues toward Writing

What will you discover about yourself and your writing when you come to the Super mini-conference?

MWW Board member and poet Michael Brockley shared his thoughts… Writing from the Dreamscape and Other Avenues toward Writing about What You Want to Know

Although I am a poet, I try to put myself in positions to learn beyond the scope of the alchemical secrets we learn in poetry workshops. Humor classes always pique my interest as do sessions on tall tales, flash fiction, translating, writing as a form of therapy and prose poetry. The latter changed my literary life. And to this day, I regret having missed a workshop in Indianapolis which was advertised as an exploration of the role recurring images serve in one’s work.

I am looking forward to this year’s Super Mini-conference in Muncie because it is constructed in such a way as to promote not only writing, but writing about what I want to know. Workshops that feel as if the thing I want to know is within reach. I encourage myself to seek writing insights from sources outside my Pandora’s box because such genre-hopping forces me to write outside of my comfort zone. To reveal to myself this unknown unknown. This makes, for instance, Lucrecia Guerrero’s From Where You Dream so enticing. The possibility of opening a door in my brain that puts me at the threshold of a new direction, something darker or funnier or maybe something that puts me in an unfurnished room in my brain. Maurice Broaddus with his World Building seminar might provide more environmental roughage to nurture my Aloha Shirt Man’s surreal adventures or stoke the apocalyptic world my anonymous second person singular protagonist navigates.

But enough about me. What about you? Do you have a mystery detective who could benefit from ecstatic moments such as might be drawn from Brent Bill’s Soulful Creativity workshop? Maybe your romantic lead has a teenage son or daughter who sounds too much like your favorite rock-and-roll singer who is pushing 50. Thinking Like a Teenager, Barb Shoup’s offering, could jack up the parent-adolescent strife to such an extent that it jazzes your story with a new dimension or new character. For you see, once changes are introduced to your comfort zone you have no choice but to turn the handle on the Unchosen Door, the one you’ve always wanted to open. The light under that door shines with a color you can’t name and the sounds you hear might be grief or joy. Open the door and take a vacation through your dreamscape with your unconscious sidekick. Discover the worlds yet unbuilt that only you can raise. The seeds of writing within your soul await. Think once more in the way you did before you had a driver’s license. When you first began defining love for yourself. Come to the MWW Super Mini-conference on July 27 and July 28 at the Ball State Alumni Center in Muncie, Indiana. Come to begin your first (or your next) novel and leave with the passion to write about everything.

*****

Mike echoes what Brent Bill responded to this question: For writers who are unsure about which classes to attend at the July MWW Super Mini-conference, what criteria should they use in making their choices?

Brent: “One obvious piece of advice is to attend a workshop that most closely aligns with the kind of writing you want to do. A second, and I think just as valuable piece, is to sign up for a workshop completely outside of your primary interest. I did that when I signed up for my first MWW conference in the late 1980s — a poetry workshop. I like poetry, but had no intention of writing any poetry. The instructor, Mary Brown, was insightful and her exercises and information on writing poetry were very helpful to my writing (and by then I’d written six books). The lessons I learned in that class took my writing deeper in ways that I doubt any other course could have.”

Come and discover!

_______________________________________________________________

To register for MWW Super-Mini, go to here.

Scholarship applications information, here.
_______________________________________________________________
We have UPDATED the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.
To review the faculty bios, read here.

Build the skills you need to finish that first novel

Are you writing your first novel?

If the answer is “YES,” then MWW Super Mini-conference has a session just for you!

We are pleased to have Larry D. Sweazy returning to Midwest Writers Workshop for the Super Mini-conference this July 27-28 at the Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, Indiana. Larry is an exceptional instructor, warm, friendly and encouraging to everyone.

He is the award-winning author of thirteen novels, including the Lucas Fume Western series, the Josiah Wolfe Texas Ranger series, as well as the Marjorie Trumaine mystery series. His books have been translated by major publishers in Italy and Turkey and he has published over seventy nonfiction articles and short stories. Writers in his previous MWW sessions had this to say:

“Larry Sweazy was great and very informative.”

“He had enthusiasm, courtesy and knowledge and a great personality”

“Larry was excellent. The exercises were a little scary but very helpful and fun.”

“He did a great job! He made things clear and was approachable, accessible and valuable.”

We asked Larry to tell us about what he will teach at the Super Mini.

MWW: You’re offering a hands-on class Friday morning. [Here’s the full description.]

Fiction: Writing Your First Novel – Here’s the big secret about writing first novels: The hardest part writing a first novel is finishing it. Great ideas tire out. Real life gets in the way. Doubt over takes the dream. In this interactive workshop, Larry D. Sweazy will share proven tips and help you to build the skills a new writer needs to finish that special first novel. Topics discussed will be time management, building a toolbox, finding support, writing tips, and most importantly living life as writer–even if you’re not published. Participants may send in two double-spaced pages for a brief critique, and should come prepared to write in class.

Can you tell us more about what that class will be about? What can writers expect to come away with from it?  

LDS: Writing a first novel is a luxury. Most writers don’t realize this until it’s too late. There’s no deadline, no editor waiting at the other end, no marketing department, no critics, no expectation of a follow-up novel in the next year. There’s more freedom for a writer writing a first novel than any other, but yet it’s the most difficult to finish. Doubt is a constant companion. Fear resides at the end of every sentence. Most first novels are abandoned. Maybe they’re picked back up later, and maybe not. The love affair with the first novel is tumultuous.

I hope to give writers a few practical tools that will encourage them to finish that first novel, help them realize where they are in the journey so they can get on with the work of being a writer, and start their next novel. We’ll discuss time management, overcoming excuses, how the publishing industry works, and hopefully, everything in between. We’ll also get to some writing exercises and critiques to round out the experience of being a new writer.

MWW: You’re known these days as a mystery writer (your third Marjorie Trumaine novel, See Also Proof, released May 1st) but you’ve also written many westerns. Was it difficult to switch genres? Do you feel having written westerns gave you a different approach to mysteries?

LDS: That’s an interesting question, and one I hope that can be instructive. I’ve written a lot of stories that were neither westerns or mysteries. I’ve published ghost stories, literary stories, action adventure stories, and some nonfiction work thrown in, too. I love writing westerns and historical fiction, and I also love writing mysteries. But more than anything, I love writing stories. I think the story should pick the genre, not the other way around. So, to answer your question, yes, I think my writing experience affects everything I write. I like to write with a large palette, and anything that serves the story is fair game. We’ll discuss genres in both of my classes, the good, bad, and the ugly, as well as some traps to avoid along the way.

MWW: We’re looking forward to your Saturday morning wake-up session with Matthew Clemens. You’ll be talking about “What’s Your Dream?” Can you give us a bit of a preview by telling us a little about your dream? 

LDS: I knew I wanted to be a writer from a young age, so the dream was simple: Be a working writer when I grew up. But my journey was not as simple. Getting published was not easy, and staying published is not easy. Sitting down in the chair day after day, year after year presents daunting challenges along the way, but the dream has never changed for me. I still want to be a writer more than anything else.

larrydsweazy.com

Follow on Twitter: @larrydsweazy

www.facebook.com/larrysweazyauthor

PRAISE FOR MARJORIE TRUMAINE SERIES:

“The more you get to know Marjorie Trumaine, the more you will want to know her.” –Reviewing The Evidence

“A riveting and expertly crafted story…. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time, and I look forward to more in this engaging and powerful series.” -DAVID BELL, award-winning and bestselling author of Somebody I Used to Know 
“A dark, complex mystery with well-developed characters deeply rooted in their small-town rural setting. Larry D. Sweazy gives mystery readers a rich, satisfying read.” -KAT MARTIN, New York Times-bestselling author of Against the Wind

“Marjorie is the kind of gritty heroine, playing the cards she was dealt with pragmatism and intelligence, who will keep readers engaged in this series.” -Killer Nashville

“Brimming with atmosphere and filled with well-drawn characters, See Also Deception is bound to delight mystery readers everywhere. Marjorie Trumaine rings as solid and true as any heroine ever created.” -SUSAN CRANDALL, bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard

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To register for Larry’s session, “Fiction: Writing Your First Novel,” go here.

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To review the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.

To review the faculty bios, read here.

MWW Super Mini-conference, July 27-28

MWW Super Mini-conference — July 27-28 at the Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, Indiana. Friday 8:30 am through Saturday 12:30 pm.  A dynamic day-and-a-half with a decidedly different structure—shorter, smaller, less expensive, with a strong emphasis on helping you reach your writing goals.

This MWW Craft + Community super mini is designed for writers of every level in their careers.

Whether you’re a published author or a novice exploring writing for the first time, you’ll find your place here, among teachers and fellow writers in a small group environment. It’s time to grow your network and nurture your identity as a writer. We have mentors to help.

Press the reset button.

At MWW Craft + Community, you’ll experience a day and a half—long enough to get away and refocus your energy on your writing, yet short enough to accommodate your busy schedule. Come enjoy the camaraderie and receive useful guidance!

This “super mini” offers eight in-depth, hands-on interactive, small class size sessions taught by experienced, accomplished, and professional faculty:

  • Holly Miller: Manuscript Makeover
  • Matthew Clemens: Developmental Editing
  • Brent Bill: Writing from the Heart: Soulful Creativity
  • Lou Harry: Nonfiction, Writing About Everything
  • Larry D. Sweazy – Fiction, Writing Your First Novel
  • Barbara Shoup – Think Like a Teenager
  • Lucrecia Guerrero – From Where You Dream
  • Maurice Broaddus – World Building: How to Out-Imagine Your Reader

Our programming focuses on key areas such as craft improvement, genre knowledge, finding critique partners, and forming writing support groups to help improve your writing. Get feedback from experts and friendly peers. Sharing your work and reading your work will allow you to pinpoint sagging plot lines, breaks in character and more. The give-and-take, along with honest feedback, is a win for all.

We’ll have fun activities to help you find a writing community. Writing is a solitary act, a leap of faith in which we work to bring the ideas in our head, our own experiences, our research and our true and imaginary tales to life on the page. Because we labor alone, we need a community of honest supporters who can help us to see what works in our stories and what doesn’t.

MWW Craft + Community wants to give you that community. You’ll return home with new skills and insight into your writing. You’ll return home with new writing friends.

And there’s a space waiting for you.

Secure your spot today.

Cost: $199

REGISTER

[For a statement from our board, read here.]

Writing from the Heart: Soulful Creativity with J. Brent Bill

Online courses provide great opportunities for everyone who wants to learn something. From the comfort of your home, or even the comfort of your jammies, you can learn on your own time schedule and participate in classes that will help take your writing to the next level.
Our newest MWW Ongoing course is Writing from the Heart: Soulful Creativity taught by J. Brent Bill. The course starts March 26 and will be available through July.

Who This Course Will Help

This course is for both unpublished and published authors who wish to write in a way that connects with readers – and themselves – at the deepest levels. Many writers are technically sound and fine thinkers. True connection with readers requires more, however. The secret to making that connection, whether you write fiction or non-fiction, is writing from the heart.

Many of us approach writing by wondering what readers, editors, and publishers want. Instead, this course will focus on what interests us as writers. What things are we most passionate about and do we dare write about them?

This course offers tips and techniques for connecting with your writer’s heart – and discovering themes and concerns that will bring your writing to life.

 

What This Course Teaches

This four-week course offers practical ways for involving head, heart, and craft in writing – with a particular emphasis on tapping into your heart. Each lesson will include opening thoughts by Brent and then lead into exercises regarding that week’s topic.

The course officially begins on Monday, March 26, when the first full unit will become available to all students. Lessons related to the week’s theme will appear on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Units 2-4 will be available on the following Mondays: April 2, 9, 16.

Unit One: Heart and Mind

The first week will explore how we link head and craft with heart. It uses concrete exercises that will tap into what you know – and don’t know you know. We’ll also look at the places where heart and head intersect so that we can produce powerful writing.

Unit Two: Heart and Body

In our second week, we will go deeper in exploring the personal by adding body to heart. We will work with exercises that explore like-heartedness, but not necessarily like-mindedness as a way to connect with readers whose life experiences are different from our own.

Unit Three: Putting it All Together: Heart, Body, and Mind

During week three, you’ll delve into a deep personal experience from the perspective of heart instead of head. You’ll learn how to bring all the senses (physical, emotional, mental) to bear in bringing the story to life.

Unit Four: Going Long and Deep

Week four will pull all the learning from the first three weeks into a longer writing project where you can draw on what you’ve experienced. As with the previous weeks, it will include practical tips and guided exercises.

 

What This Course Includes

Weekly Assignments for completion at your own pace—designed to help you put what you learn into action.

You’ll also:

  • Receive suggestions for reading and other resources for you to go deeper in writing from the heart
  • Be able to chat with Brent in real time (video, audio, and text) during his weekly online office hours (2 separate hour per week)
  • Have access to a dedicated private Facebook page where you can (if you choose)
    • ask questions and engage in discussions with Brent and the other course participants. Brent will check the page daily for questions and comments.
    • share your work based on the exercise and invite feedback from the other course participants

A review (via email) by Brent of up to ten pages of a manuscript in which you’ve put some of the learning from this course into practice.

Cost: $150. Register HERE

About the Instructor

With more than twenty books and numerous articles and short stories published since the 1980s, Brent has learned a thing or three about writing. His book titles include Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace, Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment; and Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality. He’s a writing coach, editor, photographer, and retreat leader.

One reviewer said of Brent that he’s “… a substantial spiritual guide, but never in a flashy way. Think of – oh, perhaps something like Mister Rogers Meets the Dalai Lama.” Brent is a member of Spirituality & Practice’s Living Spiritual Teachers Project.

A MWW alumnus, Brent lives on Ploughshares Farm – 50 acres of Indiana farmland being reclaimed for native hardwood forests and warm season prairie grasses.

Create intricate plots & unforgettable characters with Shirley Jump

MWW Ongoing

If you’ve ever wished for a way to continue growing with your writing all year long, from the comfort of your home, now you can! MWW Ongoing is a series of courses taught by award-winning writing instructors, and everything happens online. From the convenience of your computer, on your own time schedule, you can participate in classes to take your writing to the next level.

Check out our newest MWW Ongoing course taught by New York Times bestselling author Shirley Jump.

The Brainmap: A way to create intricate plots and compelling, unforgettable characters

Shirley Jump’s The Brainmap Technique develops fully formed characters before a single word is written, resulting in a stronger, more powerful–and more emotional story. This 4-week course starts Monday, Sept. 4, with each unit available on the following Mondays (Sept 11, 18, 25). Cost: $75.

Who This Course Will Help

This course is for writers who are looking for a way to plot a unique, character-driven novel. This course will cover all the pre-work needed to develop a compelling, layered character with a full history. From that, the plot will develop, thus building an intriguing novel with a strong emotional hook for the reader.

Editors love books that are character driven and have layered plots. The Brainmap Technique develops fully formed characters before a single word is written, resulting in a stronger, more powerful–and more emotional story. If you’re stuck in your writing, needing inspiration or just want to learn more about developing characters and developing a multi-layered plot, you’ll get the boost you need for this class with this technique. By the end of this workshop, participants will have everything they need to write a character-based plot that has emotional depth, character-driven conflict, and memorable page-turning twists.

What you will learn

  • How to develop a character’s past, family relationships and motivations
  • Use this to develop a character-based plot
  • An in-depth analysis of your character’s behavior and choices
  • A richer, more emotionally based book

The course is broken down into four units. Each unit is accompanied by several handouts that build on the one before. You can start using the information immediately for your current work. But you can start when you are ready. The material will be available to you until October 31. Questions about the material and how it applies to your story will be answered within the private Facebook group.

Unit One will be about getting the basics down. We will start with the basics of who your character is, based on their dominant impression, then why they are in that career. How their education impacted that choice and where it has brought them to at the start of your novel.

  1. Basics of the Brainmap
  2. Brainmap Center
  3. Brainmap Spoke One

Unit Two will take the Brainmap to a deeper level. We will discuss the multiple layers of family relationships and look at how those have impacted your character. This particular section of the brainmap is vital in shaping your character.

  1. Brainmap Spoke Two
  2. Brainmap Spoke Three
  3. Brainmap Example

Unit Three will explore past relationships and their impact on your character. What type of person they choose, how it impacted their life, and where that has brought them now. For those writing novels with a romance thread, this section will form the basis of the romantic conflict. We will also discuss the last two spokes of the brainmap to create a fully-fleshed out character.

  1. Brainmap Spoke Four
  2. Brainmap Spoke Five and Six

Unit Four will pull all those spokes together, developing a plot based on the character, one that derives from their weaknesses, strengths and greatest nightmare. This will allow the student to write a richer novel at the completion of the course.

  1. Weaknesses and Strengths
  2. Worst Nightmare

About the Instructor

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance so she can avoid the towering stack of dirty dishes, eat copious amounts of chocolate and reward herself with trips to the mall. She’s published more than 60 books in 24 countries. Look for her all-new novella in the anthology ASK ME WHY (with Marie Force, Virginia Kantra and Jodi Thomas), as well as her Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, and her Fortune’s Island series, starting with AND THEN FOREVER. Visit her website at www.ShirleyJump.com for author news and a booklist, and follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/shirleyjump.author for giveaways and deep discussions about important things like chocolate and shoes.

Register Today!

Click HERE to register.

And be part of the community in the private Facebook Group!

Novel to TV series | Screenwriter Nina Sadowsky | MWW17

Midwest Writers Workshop 2017 is offering a NEW Part I Intensive Session on “Screenwiriting,” and we’re pleased to welcome screenwriter and novelist Nina Sadowsky.

This class will provide an in-depth overview of writing for film and television. A mixture of lecture, in-class exercises and screenings will give the participants an understanding of how material is pitched, developed and produced in Hollywood as well as tips for successful screenwriting.

Spots to Nina’s intensive session are limited and we expect this one to fill up fast.

Register now!

A New York City native, Nina R. Sadowsky is an entertainment lawyer (in recovery) who has worked as a film and television producer and writer for most of her career.  Just Fall, published by Ballantine in March 2016 is her first novel, and is now in development as an original series for STARZ. She has written numerous original screenplays and adaptations and done rewrites for such companies as The Walt Disney Company, Working Title Films, and Lifetime Television.

She served as President of Production for Signpost Films, a film financier and foreign distributor, where she worked on such projects as the Academy Award nominated “The House of Sand and Fog,” starring Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley. Prior to joining Signpost, she served as President of Meg Ryan’s Prufrock Pictures for over five years. During her tenure, Prufrock landed first look feature deals with Fox 2000 and Castle Rock Entertainment and an overall long-form television deal with Polygram/Universal Television.

Sadowsky served as executive producer for the hit film “The Wedding Planner,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey for Intermedia and Sony, produced “Desert Saints,” an independent film starring Kiefer Sutherland which premiered on Cinemax, and has served as executive director for numerous other films.

She is also currently serving as adjunct faculty at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts program, teaching both writing and producing. Her students have been the recipients of many awards and accolades including best scripted series at the College Television Awards and inclusion in the Cannes Film Festival Shorts Corner. Sadowsky is also currently serving as a mentor for the Humanitas Prize’s New Voices Program, and is a member of Humanitas’ Woolfpack, an organization of women writers, directors and showrunners.

MWW: What’s it feel like to have your debut novel being adapted for a television series?

NS: It’s thrilling that we sold Just Fall to STARZ, particularly as premium cable allows creators to push the limits. I’m especially excited that the network wanted me to write the pilot as they felt the work was so particular to my voice. As far as I know, the title will remain the same. And I wish I had a timetable, but I don’t!

MWW: You’ve said the opening scene of your psychological thriller was inspired in real life when your husband was lying in bed with one arm flung over his head. You imagined him dead, just for a moment. Why do you think people like yourself, a happily married woman and a mother, write and read dark, crime-filled stories?

NS: Actually, I am a mother of a 21 year old daughter and a 18 year old son and stepmother to other kids (one girl, one boy) now 22 and 20 years old. And the incident you correctly describe happened shortly after we blended the two families (the kids were all teenagers then).  Blending the family created all kinds of tensions between my husband and I that we never anticipated.  We believed “love will beget love” and were gobsmacked when our rosy predictions weren’t fulfilled. It got me thinking about all the couples who throw themselves into love and marriage and then have to get past the romantic idealism and slog through whatever real life throws at them.  In writing Just Fall, I wanted to take those very ordinary, universal feelings and inflate them to a thriller level.  As to why I like to write or read about crime, it comes from my desire to understand human nature.  Why we connect with other people. Why we don’t. Why societies create norms of behavior and what it means to an individual to step out of those norms. When is it right to do the wrong thing? Wrong to do the right thing? I’m trying to make sense of the confusing moral world that surrounds us and I think readers are too.

MWW: What are some ways your work as a film and television producer have influenced your novels? Might novelists benefit from learning screenwriting techniques in your course at MWW as well?

NS: I’d say the biggest influence is in the way I start any scene. I close my eyes and I think about what each production department would need to do in order to bring a scene to life. What are people wearing? What’s the quality of the light? What does the location look like and how do its details reveal something about the characters in the production design? These questions help me envision any scene for a book or a screenplay in a way that serves the narrative.  It’s my philosophy as a film maker that every inch of the frame should contribute to the story, so I think similarly about writing a scene in a book. Every element should be meaningful to furthering character, plot, theme and/or story. And I definitely think novelists can learn from screenwriting techniques. While film and television have highly codified and specific structures, good storytelling is good storytelling!

MWW: Just Fall seemed to be about taking risks as a writer, from the overall structure, to the sentence structure, to setting description, to characters that behave in unexpected ways. Do you have a tip or five on why authors wanting to break in or break out should take risks?

NS: Truth be told, when I started Just Fall, my sole hope was to finish it. It was a personal exercise borne out of the personal marital tension I was wrestling with as well as some frustration with the film and TV business. Because my expectations were so minimal, I felt very free. I played with structure partly because I wanted to shuck off the highly rigid structures of film and TV. I also wanted to play with structure as a way of revealing character, as opposed to solely using it to advance plot.  I subverted the stereotypes common to the thriller genre like the “damsel in distress.” I describe the writing of the novel as sort of a “howl,” one that came from a very deep place. No one was more shocked than I was when I exposed the book and very quickly found myself selling it to Ballantine/Random House!  I think one must always take risks.  Writing for the “perceived market” or writing something to which one doesn’t feel authentically connected is in my mind a mistake. Be bold or go home!

MWW: Tell us something distinctive about your writing process?

NS: I create an index card for every scene or chapter with a one line description about the scene. This reminds me to keep the main thing the main thing when I go to write.

MWW: As an adjunct professor in screenwriting at UCLA, what mistakes do students make? Besides reading Just Fall, is there a craft book you recommend your MWW students read in preparation for your course?

NS: I love SAVE THE CAT, which is a great primer on structure. Also when writing for film and TV one must adhere to proper format (if no other reason than improper formatting pegs you as an amateur). And if my students can read Just Fall before the course, I will be able to discuss how we approached its adaptation for TV.

MWW: Anything you would like to add?

NS: I’m looking forward to the MWW!

Quick hits:

1) Plotter or pantser (no pre-planning)?

A bit of both. I start usually with a theme and a visual and then begin to work up characters. I rewrite myself constantly, rewriting the last day’s work before I start on the new day’s work. And outline only once I’m deep into the first draft.

2) Critique group/hired editor or go it alone?

I have a couple of trusted readers, but my brilliant editor at PRH is the one I rely on the most.

3) Scrivener writing software, Microsoft Word or other?

Microsoft Word

4) Early bird or night owl?

Best in the morning, but can write all day and night if on a deadline!

5) Fast, messy drafter or slow and methodical?

Fast. Gut it out. Don’t obsess on every word. Writing is rewriting!

 

NOW AVAILABLE from Ballantine/Random House
Just Fall

COMING SOON also from Ballantine/Random House

The Burial Society

www.ninarsadowsky.com

https://www.facebook.com/nina.sadowsky

https://twitter.com/sadowsky_nina

Build a Better Plot with Shirley Jump | MWW Ongoing | Starts March 27

Our aim at MWW Ongoing is to bring you the highest quality of online courses. Shirley Jump’s 2-week course, BUILD A BETTER PLOT, is next up and sure to benefit all fiction writers, no matter your genre or writing experience. Registration is open now and the class starts MONDAY, MARCH 27th. 

 

About the Instructor
New York Times and  USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance so she can avoid the towering stack of dirty dishes, eat copious amounts of chocolate and reward herself with trips to the mall. She’s published more than 60 books in 24 countries. Look for her all-new novella in the anthology ASK ME WHY (with Marie Force, Virginia Kantra and Jodi Thomas), as well as her Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, and her Fortune’s Island series, starting with AND THEN FOREVER. Visit her website at www.ShirleyJump.com for author news and a booklist, and follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/shirleyjump.author for giveaways and deep discussions about important things like chocolate and shoes.

Here’s our Top 10 List about Shirley:
From 2006 to 2012, Shirley taught a monthly Real Life writing group at Barnes & Noble, and she has taught dozens of online courses since. She has extensive information to share.

 
If high energy and positivity, combined with a down-to-earth approach, is your thing, you will really appreciate Shirley!

 

Some writers just ask more questions than others and Shirley is one of the most open writers with sharing her secrets with her students.

 

If you like structured lessons to review later, Shirley is the handout queen and each one is like a mini lesson.

 

Plus, she loves rescue animals, and has also honed herself into an athlete who competes in triathlons.

 

A journalist from the age of 11, Shirley learned to write full-length fiction through writing and it didn’t come easy. So she has developed techniques and resources to help others do the same. Just call her the “novel whisperer.”

 

She’s read about every writing craft book there is and brings all that knowledge to her classes, which means you may learn of more resources to delve into after this class.

 

In 2010, her keynote speech, “The Quitting Story” kicked off Midwest Writers Workshop Part 2 and she developed an immediate following there. She has known struggles, and seen triumph. (Ten manuscripts were rejected before that first sale.)

 

Along with the instructional sessions, Shirley will actively engage through our private Facebook page specifically for this class.

 

With 67+ books published for multiple publishers in her career, Shirley’s help in nailing the concept of GMC in this course, (Goal, Motivation and Conflict,) will not only positively impact your current story but all your future stories as well!

 

We’re so very pleased that MWW Ongoing is offering the opportunity to learn online from Shirley. At just $75, it’s a bargain. This will be interactive with the chance to see clear cut examples. Shirley sometimes invites students to provide ideas from their works in progress. With a short amount of the student’s information, Shirley is able to shed light on what isn’t working in a story–or simply knows ways to make the writing stronger.

* * * If you’ve ever wished for a brainstorming session with a published author with a talent for turning stories into publishing contracts, you owe it to yourself to register for Shirley’s class!

REGISTER HERE!