Author Archives: CLW

Three Thing Thursday on Friday. Again.

CHERYL SAYS: I remember the story of a speaker at a conference I attended. She related the tale of a man who had married an incredibly beautiful woman. A few months into the marriage, he came to his mother, feeling like he was at his wit’s end.
“She doesn’t work, she doesn’t cook, she doesn’t clean, she doesn’t do anything, Mom. What should I do?”
His mother responded, “You married her for her looks. Go home and look at her.”
Do you have sentences and paragraphs like this beautiful wife? If they aren’t pulling their weight, you have to cut them loose. Every sentence needs to move the story forward. Never, ever, alter your story to make your prose fit. The story is king. Everything supports the story, or it has to go.
For me, it’s easier to save these little darlings in another folder, telling myself that someday I’ll find a home for them. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. But I know that my story is stronger for having dumped them.
I think part of the reason that it’s so hard to cut these sections stems from fear. What if I never write anything this beautiful again? What if this is the best sentence in the entire novel? What if I’ve already peaked?
Get rid of these thoughts. Every time you write, you become better. You are stronger, you are wiser, and your words will reflect that. Not only will you write something as good as the lost prose, you’ll write something better.
CAROL SAYS: So that idea of planning for NaNo? For sure, I am a pantser. (WordPress wants me to be a panther. My girls want me to be a cougar. But I am a lowly writer who never plans.) It’s hard to plan out what I’m going to write. I just don’t want to. The thought of deciding what goes in chapter one and being smart like Caitlin Shirts?
So here’s what I am doing. A Carol Plan. Easy and not restrictive.
I’m jotting down every idea of what COULD happen in my books.
Night before last I couldn’t sleep.
Wrote thought after thought of what could happen to my Wrasseling Gals. The more I thought about it, the more possibilities came to me.
The truth is, I know I won’t make it in NaNo without forethought.
We’ll see if this helps.
Martine Leavitt‘s YA novel CALVIN has won the Governor General’s Literary Award of Canada in the category of literature for young people.


Filed under Exercises, Family, Life, Uncategorized

Planning Ahead. Me?

That’s right.

NaNoWriMo this year will find me doing something I’ve never done before. Planning ahead. What have I ever planned ahead? Even my daughters came earlier than their due dates.

We have a week before glorious November is here. So much going on in that month. My Nana’s birthday. My great-grandmother’s birthday. My momma’s birthday. Thanksgiving. Eating. ONE WEEK OFF SCHOOL!


This November we have a lot planned and our WIFYR Newsletter tells you some of those things. Here are a few excerpts.

“First, Carol Lynch Williams will be hosting a NaNo Write In on November 2, 9, 16, 30 (these are all Wednesdays) from 7-9 pm. For more information on this event and more, check out Carol’s website: http://www. workshops.

Second, WIFYR is hosting a reward party! Our group goal is 400,000 words OR, if you’re in the middle of a masterpiece, a second group is editing 2000 pages (8 pages a day per person). All who meet their goals are invited to come to the reward party. Whether your goal is 20,000 words or the full 50,000, or you’re editing 8 pages a day or 15, this month is a good time to reach your goals. Click here to join the group or email us at

Third, the Byron Ghost Story Challenge! One hundred and ninety eight years ago, on a rainy night in Switzerland, Lord Byron challenged Percy and Mary Shelley to a ghost story writing contest. Thanks to that chilling night,  Frankenstein and Manfred were born. WIFYR extends the same challenge to YOU. Come to BYU on October 27th at 7:00 in 4068 JFSB and we will write scary stories together. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come up with a great idea for NaNoWriMo. Or maybe you’ll come up with the next Frankenstein!”

Now for me. This year my goal is to finish the two novels I’ve been thinking about since this summer. One is a YA murder mystery. (Someone dies!) I have about 1,000 words written on it AND a full outline in my head. The 2nd is a mid-grade novel. I have about 8,000 words on it and had NO idea where I am headed. Then I had a breakthrough and so HA! maybe I know what to do for it.


Over the next week I plan to plan.

And I’ll take you on that planning adventure.

So let’s go, Everyone. We have books to write.


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Filed under CLW, Writing Marathon, writing process

Three Thing Thursday on Friday

#1 From Me

Hey, Everyone!

Tonight I have a book signing at The King’s English bookstore in SLC. I’d love to see you there. I’m reading from my novel MESSENGER which was pubbed on the 18th of this month! The gig as at 7:00. And for once, I’m bringing treats! (I am not a treat maker. My cute daughter is going to do this for me.)

#2 From Caitlin Shirts

So NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and WIFYR is playing along. Here’s some of that info, from our WIFYR newsletter: WIFYR will be hosting a reward party! Our group goal is 400,000 words OR, if you’re in the middle of a masterpiece, a second group is editing 2000 pages (8 pages a day per person). All who meet their goals are invited to come to the reward party. Whether your goal is 20,000 words or the full 50,000, or you’re editing 8 pages a day or 15, this month is a good time to reach your goalsClick here to join the group or email us at

Here are two hints from Caitlin Shirts that helped her succeed in playing the NaNo game.

Prepare for NaNoWriMo

To avoid spending all November staring at a blank screen, I prepare with these two exercises in October.

1. Make an outline.

My NaNoWriMo outline has two purposes. First, it keeps the flow going. If I get writer’s block on Scene 2, I can skip to Scene 3 without losing my word count for the day. Second, it helps me write with more focus. NaNoWriMo drafts tend to have long meandering sections that are destined to be cut in the next draft. If I know where my character is at the beginning of a scene and I can write straight to where that character needs to be at the end, less is wasted.

A detailed 25-page outline gives you a sneaky head start on your word count, but anything that gives you direction will work. Last year, my outline was a bunch of Post-It notes, each with an event in the story, arranged in roughly the order I wanted those events to happen.

2. Set a personal backup goal.

Last year, I wrote 55,000 words during NaNoWriMo. To be honest, the main reason I surpassed the goal was not that I started with an outline. The main reason was that I have no children. Whatever your responsibilities, 50,000 words is hard. If you hit November 15 and realize there is no human way to get to 50,000 words, it’s easy to give up. A personal backup goal gives me a reason to keep going. Set your goal to support the reason you chose to participate in NaNoWriMo. If you want to get in the habit of writing daily, set a personal goal to write 200 words a day without missing a day. No matter how busy you get, 200 words is not overwhelming, and at least you’ll open the manuscript. If you want to experience the social support of NaNoWriMo, but you know you’ll be too busy to write during Thanksgiving weekend, give yourself a pro-rated word count as your personal goal. A backup goal could be to write more words than your sister, or to reach a certain part of your plot, or to promise that if you fail to reach 50,000 words, you’ll throw yourself a PersonalNoWriMo in February when your life is less hectic.

Also, remember: Nobody cares if you cheat a little, as long as you get out of NaNoWriMo what you want to get out of it.

#3 From Cheryl Van Eck

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Monday, Dreary Monday

Rick’s funeral was on Saturday.

My friend Rick.

For some time I’ve wondered how I’ll get along without him. Rick of the last 18 months was so sick. It’s selfish for me to want him back. Still.

When I cam home from the funeral, there was a package waiting for me from my publishing house.

One of my daughters wanted to open it, so I let her.

And inside was a letter from the Junior Library Guild saying MESSENGER ‘has been awarded the designation, “A Junior Library Guild Selection” for our fall 2016 span.’ They sent along a lapel pin and a certificate, too.

A lapel pin!

I thought, “Rick. Rick, did you have something to do with this arriving today?”

He and I told each other when we sold books. Sort of casually.

“Oh, I sold a book to Candlewick,” he’d say again. And again. And again.

“Of course,” I’d say. “I’m so proud you.” I’d cheer and tell him he was a genius.

He knew he was a genius. But he loved for me to cheer for him and tell him how wonderful he was. I loved that job. Telling him that I loved him and that he was wonderful.

Ha! Good ol’ Rick.

He was so prolific that he had an average of four books a year all the while we knew each other.

I was going to say this at the funeral but forgot.

Once, early in our friendship, Rick called me and said, “Hey, a bunch of people wanted to see my office. You wanna join everyone?”

Are you kidding? “Sure,” I said. I couldn’t wait for the tour.

All these years later, I remember walking around Rick’s home office. There were piles of books and bookshelves of books and a desk and pens and papers and lists. I thought, “This office looks like my office. There’s nothing that amazing here.”

Years later I realized it was Rick the Genius who made that office rock. He would have written all those books, and published them, had he had to write in a car (he did), at a school (he did), in  writers group (he did), at church (he did), on a walk (he did) on a drive (he did), in the middle of a sentence talking to someone (he did)–you get the picture.

Rick was what was amazing in that office.

He didn’t get to see my latest novel MESSENGER. But I choose to believe Rick will watch over my career now. That will make it easier to go through the days because I will miss him.

I will miss him.


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Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

We finally got internet in the house.

It’s been like a dream! Sending emails through a laptop, surfing the web for things I don’t need {and cannot afford}, checking out Goodreads . . .

Goodreads. I’ve heard that it’s the devil for writers. Already someone has put my book up there, and I’m just waiting.

Waiting, just waiting.

Waiting for those 1 stars to start trickling in. The scathing reviews from people who haven’t read the book yet, but felt the need to rate the book anyway {This has already  happened to people on my Eversosecret Swanky17 group. It makes me sick to think someone would rate a book 1 star without even reading it.}.

Is Goodreads dangerous for an up-and-coming Author? Or for an already up-and-around Author?

Are you supposed to look at reviews on there?

Are you supposed to even HAVE an author account on Goodreads?

How do you guys feel about it?

Do you rate books on Goodreads?

Do you  READ your reviews on there?

Thought I’d throw this out there.

Also, how is everyone doing on writing their page a day? I haven’t written a page a day, but I am revising Book 2 in hopes that someone may fall in love with it. So far, not even I’m in love with it.

I’ll keep writing because writing is fun, even if it is hard. And sometimes heartbreaking. And sometimes exciting. And sometimes . . .  I don’t know. The best job ever.

*Unrelated note* There are men out in the front yard ripping out Me and Stu’s piping for the bathroom. They came to the door this morning to tell me to “Shower and pee because the bathroom is going to be out of service for the next 6 or so hours”
So there’s that.


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Friday’s Post on Monday

by Lisa Roylance


I took Carol’s writing exercise and ran with it.

7 days 7 different perspectives from 7 different characters.

Time set for 5 min each day.

I’m on take 4 and I’ve discovered a new way to introduce one of the characters. I’ve also tried for the first time to write a whole scene from a child’s perspective which was new, and quite challenging.

One thing I’ve also done recently is focus on the system that I use to write rather than the very large looming goal ahead of me. A link about this was also posted on the blog recently.

My new system:

Take five minutes for a writing exercise before I jump into the big stuff. This can be anything, blog suggestions to free writes that can range from nightmare retells to dating disasters.


Set the timer for 15 minutes and revise a chapter of my first novel.

If the timer dings and I’m on fire then I keep writing, but I always write for at LEAST 15 minutes a day. It feels less daunting and I’ve gotten a lot more revised.

So you know your goals, but what are your current “systems?”

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Three Thing Thursday


Last Monday afternoon I left my writing critique group feeling like I’d chugged a 32 oz. energy drink. In the good excited, can’t-wait-to-get-started way, not the jittery, sick-to-my-stomach way. Even though there was only two other people there that night, they had helped me find a breakthrough in a problem I was having with the ending. I was in love with the story again! I was in love with my group for helping me!

The outcome of a writers group session isn’t always this good, and I often am stressed out the day leading up to writing group because I have serious doubts about what I submitted to the other members. Or I procrastinated. Or both. I know that they are going to figure out I’m faking it, that I can’t write at all. Still, I write. I submit. I go.  There is no other way to have that rare breakthrough, like I had on Monday, without working regularly with a writer’s group. Even though some meetings are a bit boring or you sometimes walk away feeling misunderstood, stick with it. What happened the other night could not have happened on my own. It took brainstorming, and feedback from others’ points of view, that would have been impossible by myself. Writers group gives you someone to be accountable to, helps you know what’s working and what’s not. It pushes you to keep going. It’s affirming and funny. If you don’t have one, find one. Create one, reach out to those you meet at conferences or join writing social media groups. It’s worth it a hundred times over.


So, you’ve knocked out your beginning, plowed through the murky middle, and now you’re up against that terrifying monster…THE END.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had this planned all along. You’ve thought over that last line a thousand times, revised and perfected it in your head until you are finally able to type it out. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our character’s life that we want to just keep going after the story ends. We want to tell everyone what happens a few days later, and maybe a few weeks later…oh, all right, let me just quickly tell you all what happens 30 years later!
But we can’t do that. When the story is over, it has to end. So how do we determine that it’s over?
First, we have to be very clear on what the story problem is. The story is over when the story problem is solved. Period. But is the problem part of the plot line? Or is it part of the character’s development? Only you will know for sure. But once you know for certain what your story problem is, the ending will fall into place.

Using these ten words, write a romantic scene.












I already can see this coming out in a good way, a bad way, or with lots of kissing.

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