Chrysalis: Emerging Women Writers

August 17, 2013

I Wrote it…Now What?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barb @ 10:44 pm

I’m posting a good blog for those of you who’ve done your editing and are ready for self-publishing.  Joleene Naylor has a detailed guide on how to use the KDP resources (Amazon).

This will get you started.

Joleene Naylor’s Self-Publishing Blog


October 20, 2010

Silence That Inner Editor

Filed under: Technique,Uncategorized,Writing — K. @ 8:23 pm

I came across a little trick the other day that I’m pretty sure will help me, and maybe it will help you, too. I am plagued by that awful Ms Inner Editor, who criticizes almost every sentence, sometimes nearly every word I put down in my first draft and wants me to “stop immediately and correct that! Right now, you! Don’t go any further until you fix what you’ve done.”

The effect of Ms IE is that I often will go back over a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph of more, taking out certain words and replacing them, then sometimes replacing them again, until I’m able to move onto the next sentence. This makes writing a first draft extremely difficult and tedious, if not impossible. Yes, I’ve heard that’s the way Dean Koontz does it, polishing each page before going to the next, so at the end of the novel, well, that’s really the end. His first draft, second draft and final draft, all right there and wrapped up neatly, ready to go. I’m not sure if that anecdote is true, first off, and second, I’m certainly no Dean Koontz with a proven track record and miles of printed pages out on the bookstore shelves.

I need every trick I can find right now to just blast through the first draft and get it all down, so I can go back and edit and smooth and make it shiny. So what’s this trick? To get the whole effect, read this blog by Andy Shackcloth. This is just the nutshell version.

So there you are, writing along happily for a few sentences or paragraphs and then ugly Ms IE pops up and says, “Eeeeewwww, that’s not right! Here, let’s fix it before you go on. It’ll take just a second.” Liar! Two minutes later you’ll still be trying to get it just right and the wind will be gone from your sails. You’ll be dead in the water. So try this: Smile sweetly to acknowledge Ms IE  then put a # mark right there where she thinks your stuff stinks. The # is shift+3. Then go and and finish your first draft, using this little # at each spot where Ms IE flicks her long scarlet fingernail at you. When you are done! It’s over! First draft complete! then you can use the search function of your word processing software (for Word, it’s “Find” under the “Edit” top menu) to highlight all those # marks.

Of course, you’ll want to completely edit the whole first draft, not just those highlighted spots, but knowing you’ve marked the troublesome areas will free up your writing mind to keep going. You don’t need to worry about forgetting to fix it later.

So see, Ms IE! I wasn’t ignoring you, I was just saving your Quality Control notes for me to deal with later. So no more nasty looks from you.

Let me know how this works for you. I’ll be trying it during NaNoWriMo when it’s go for the glory, worry about the guts later.


January 12, 2010

The First Step of a Novel: Get ‘Er Down

Filed under: Technique,Uncategorized,Writing — Barb @ 11:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to the new writers who have joined our group.

A frequent question that has come up is: How should I start writing a novel? We’ll answer that question, but first, raise your hand and repeat after me:

My basic goal is to get the story down on paper.

Now for the different approaches:

Let ‘er Rip:

Sit down, tell the editor in your brain to shut up and write. Now is not the time to fuss over the intro hook, a cliff hanger for every scene, and punctuation. Simply tell your story. Yes, it probably isn’t Pulitzer worthy. Then edit it.  Go through it a couple of times, at least. You’ll find the beginning is usually weaker than the ending because you’ve become a better writer by the time you reached the end.  Edit the beginning several times.

You’ll want to make it the best you can before bringing it to critique. Why would you want folks to tell you things you already know how to do? Use the critique time to gain new insights and info into technique.

Let ‘er Flow(chart)

A story proceeds across my wall in sticky notes.  Different characters’ storylines are in colors, while the main story flows down the center. So, I know the plot, character development, and pacing before I start.  I also know how it begins, ends and where the turning point falls in between. Armed with this information, I’ll follow the Let-er-Rip technique and get the story on paper.  Miss editor-in-my-mind will come by later and make snarky comments.

Let ‘er Be Plotted

This includes not only a visual chart of the characters’ development and story events, but notecards.

*Character notecards (color coded) Contain description, fears, relationships, history, family, nicknames, etc.

*Chapter notecards: Goals for each chapter, Action within chapter; notes about foreshadowing;

YOu may even break chapters into scene notecards.

*Pacing Chart. The action of each chapter or scene can be graphed to give you  visual evidence that your story is not flat-lining.

This technique requires a lot more prep, but the benefit is that you’ll have developed your characters so throughly and the story so deeply that writing will go much more quickly (and usually the editing will too.)

When I first started, I just wanted to write. Phooey on all that planning stuff. There are some very accomplished writers who use this technique successfully.  For me, I  ended up editing the manuscript at least 15 times.  It could probably STILL use some work.

That’s okay. I’ve accomplished my basic goal. Little steps.

Get ‘er Down on Paper.

December 24, 2009

Chrysalis Holiday Party

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lisa Nowak @ 8:19 am

Did you miss the festivities? Hurry on over to Rose’s blog. She posted a review and lots of great photos.

If you have  a holiday post on your blog let us know in the comments so we can come visit.

Happy holidays, everyone!


December 5, 2009

From the IN Box

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barb @ 9:11 pm

*****Congratulations to Roxie.  I read all the hook entries to a room full of Thanksgiving pre-guests without showing them the picture.  Many of the entries had votes and brought a lot of comments. Roxie’s hook had the most people wanting to keep reading and find out what happens next.

True, the results might have been different if I’d shown the picture, but like a book, I wanted the listeners to be influenced only by the words.

Thanks to everyone for playing, we’ll have more contests. So stay tuned.

By MykReeve

NanoWriMo is finished.

6 Chrysalis writers participated.

Here are some great thoughts from Ruth R. about the experience.

Once I set my mind to begin, the Nanowrimo discipline kicked in and I made a chose to write so many words a day until I completed. That was only a goal. As I met myself each day to write, discipline reinforced my attitude, attitude reinforced my discipline… and I was on a writing roll. Another plus of writing a story is that visiting there each day is like going on a vacation (an escape). I enjoyed going there each day to see what would happen, and reveled in the license I had as a writer to say and do what I wanted! (Sometimes a character told me different.

As I wrote I noted pieces I would revise.  In fact, my story was sandwiched between musings about starting nanawrimo and self analysis at the end. I have left it (anticlimatic) and will come back to it later. As for continuing writing I have set the goal of writing, revising, and accomplishing some stage of the writing process for poems and prose… each day.
I thank Chrysalis,again, for information about opportunities and encouragement.
Funny thing…after I hit 51,350 at 9:20PM on the 29th I decided NOT to send it to nanowrimo. I wrote my piece, set next steps and told my writing pals about it (I did it!)..what more did I need for gratification!
The cheering sound you hear, Ruth  comes from your fellow writers, applauding and saying, “Well done.”
Anyone else want to share their experience?

November 21, 2009

Winner Announced Next Chrysalis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barb @ 5:38 pm

Thanks everyone who posted.  We had some very clever hooks.

Some of you got hung up in the “pending file”, but you’re posted now and your entries are in the hopper.

Visit Chrysalis on Wednesday, (Thanksgiving Eve) to hear who the winner of the hook contest is.


You didn’t think I’d tell you, did you?  right now?  You knew I’d keep you on the HOOK.

Everyone had their humor and brilliance shining. It was fun and we’ll have more contests.

November 5, 2009

Keep Entering Those Contests

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barb @ 2:30 pm

Congratulations to Chrysalis’s very own Rose L. (see members’ bio).

She won a prestigious poetry competion, and netted fame, honor, and best of all….

a by-line and cash.

Rose was gracious enough to share the site, so you, too can enter those contests.

Click here for the Winning Writers link that gives you numerous contest options.

Good Luck.

November 3, 2009

Writing Unblocked

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barb @ 1:05 am

How do you unblock your ideas and get them onto paper?

Here are a few things I’ve tried with varying degrees  of success.

  • Typing with the  monitor turned off.

  • That way I can resist the urge to go back and read what I just wrote.
  • Typing with out editing

Same principle. My goal is to get it on paper anyway I can, then go back and fix it.

Writing a few pages from a great novel in longhand

Sounds weird, but if I’m really stuck, there seems to be a kinesthetic connection between handwriting movement and jump starting the brain.  It reminds me of my first VW.  Sometimes I had to get it rolling and pop the clutch with it in gear to get the engine to turn over.


You’ll kick yourself if you haven’t used this technique. The trick is to use the right kind of music. I have to use tunes without words because I find the lyrics distracting, but you may not. If it’s an action scene I use wild flamingo music or rah-rah fight tunes. If it’s a  pensive piece, then Enya.

Read a good book

Well, you should ALWAYS be reading a good book. But do more than read. Pay attention to the things that make you sad, happy, interested.  (I’ve tried reading really crappy books, thinking that I’d come away feeling that I could do better, but mostly I was disgusted that I’d wasted my time)

Take a long walk

I’ve walked a lot of  my characters’ problems away.  Sometimes I carry a small recorder with me, because I have the memory of a gnat and the brillant solution I found at Mile 1 is unavailable to my brain cells by Mile 4.


This is part of the  mind/body connection. But there is something about opening your body that will unclog creativity.

There are more…lots more…

What do you do to keep the words rolling onto the page?

June 26, 2009

Information for Writers

gadls thesis

gadl's thesis

Hi lady writers,

I’m copying and pasting some important information from Terripatrick.  She put it in a comment that got hung up in a post, and I don’t want you to miss it.

“Here’s two wonderful agents that blog – and they really do love writers.
Jenny Bent: and here’s a link to her take on conferences:

“Kristen Nelson: There’s tons of great information on this blog, she’s been posting for a long time and covers all kinds of publishing business topics.

I agree with Terri.  I like to set aside a few moments to read agent’s blogs. It keens one’s ability to keep up with what agents/publishers are searching for.

And Yes, they are still looking for crisp language with an inciting plot and memorable characters. But with 10-30 seconds to review your submission, your brilliance may be overlooked unless you have some help.

Check this out. Does anyone have other helpful blogs they’d like to add to this share?

May 20, 2009

Slouchers Who Can’t Sing or Write

By Del Ray Artisians

By Del Ray Artisians

What does a choir director say to someone who truly can’t sing?

  • “I’m sorry, we’ve run out of robes.”
  • “We need strong singers like you in the congregation to help them sing the hymns.”
  • “I wouldn’t want you to strain your voice.”
  • “Did you know singing can aggravate sinus problems?
  • “We still need good people for the handbell choir.”
  • “It’s a shame composers don’t write more songs in your style.”
  • “You have a unique range – you hit both notes well”
  • “Did you know there is a new Bible study starting the same night as choir practice, I think you’d get a lot from it.”
  • “You have excellent posture.”

Of all the choirs I’ve participated in, I’ve never heard any of the above statements. NOT BECAUSE I’M A GOOD SINGER.  No, I can’t read music and I tend to follow the voice of whoever I’m standing next to (usually, I’m about a quarter-beat behind them.) I know I’ve thrown folks off the tune.  One gal used to cover her ear when I stood next to her. She kindly said it was to hear the note in her head, but I’m pretty sure it was to block out the rest of us—especially me. That’s okay. She had this vibrato-thing going on and her high notes sounded like one of those ululating women in India.

So why do I sing? Because I enjoy it. It’s a wonderful oral release of spirit and soul. The more I do it, I improve.

I believe it’s the same with writing. Within our group, I’ve never heard a suggestion to stop straining fingers or brain cells and give up writing.In a critique group we share our thoughts about what will make each other’s work stronger.

Like opera stars, the words roll off some folk’s papers like music. For others, the work may be closer to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

Why do we write? Because it’s a wonderful written release of the spirit and soul. We are explorers. Why do we evaluate each other? To improve; and the more we do it, the more we improve.

There are layers and goals for our writing.  Sometimes we write only to please ourselves.

Sometimes we consider being represented, so we must grow our skills and write to please an agent.

For those who want to sell their words, then we polish our abilities until they please an editor and publisher.

The higher the stakes, the greater the possibility of rejection. That sends us back down the road to improve some more.

The Can’t Sing Choir at Morely College in East London is a community choir. It’s made up of people who don’t have the confidence to sing or have been begged not to. Participants begin with making a noise and learning rhythm. Some are quite challenged.  They progress through crazy exercises like hitting your left knee with your right, and  then hitting your right knee with your left hand. “It frees the body.” says singing tutor, Andrea  Brown. “You’re so concentrating on d0ing the exercise that the body is less rigid and the vocal mechanism is freer.”  If participants hang in there and take level 3 of The Can’t Sing Choir, they get so good they admit: “Well, yes, we actually can sing.”

With work, we can learn to sing. With concentrated passion, we can learn to write.

Now about that posture……

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