How to Maintain a Healthy Writing Group

How to Maintain a Healthy Writing Group

Being a part of a writing group, in my mind, is a crucial part of the creative process. We need feedback and input from other writers. But creating or joining a writing group is not enough.

First, you have to find one that you click with. You need to be benefiting from the group, as well as contributing. If you’re in a group that doesn’t energize and help you – leave it. And you can be a part of one or many writing groups at one time.

One of the most important elements of having a healthy writing group is having consistent, regular meetings that are scheduled at a time that works for most of the writers involved.

You don’t need officers, but you do need someone who organizes the meetings, and facilitates them. This person generally keeps everything on track and can stop the whole group from going too far off topic.

Clear, outlined parameters of what the group does and doesn’t do are important. Go with what works best for the members of your group. Schedule who submits how much and when.

Make sure you are getting valuable feedback from the group. After all, that’s what it’s all about. Getting and giving feedback!

Sherry Briscoe


Writing Contest With Free Feedback

Writing Contest With Free Feedback

The Idaho Writers Guild is once again sponsoring their #writing #contest. Each entry is judged by two or more industry professionals. And you receive the judge’s scorecards after the competition is over.

Accepting submissions now through March 5, 2018. Winners will be announced at the May 4/5 IWG Writers #Conference in Boise.

First place winner in each category receives $100.  Second place winner in each category receives $50.

Entry fees are $40 for non-members of the Idaho Writers Guild, and $35 for members.


  1. Short story
  2. Novel first 10 pages
  3. Non-fiction
    1. memoir first 10 pages
    2. essay/article – max 2,500 words

Check it out, and get the full guidelines and entry form at



“My mind, which I used to consider a great ally, has turned into a sparrow on a leash.” ~ Dessa

It is a beautiful thing when our passions, our craft, our imagination all get away from us. Relinquishing control is a practiced art form all its own. Do you meditate regularly?


The above is from The Writer’s Handbook – 365 Days of Inspiration & Motivation by Rochelle Cunningham. A fellow Gypsy writer, a friend, and talented wand maker, I invite you to check out her book.

We can all use inspiration, and this book is full of quotes, suggestions, tips, and more to help you with your writing. Every author should have it on the corner of their desk.

I do!

Building Realistic Characters

Building Realistic Characters

Character refers to the essence of who anyone is on the inside. Is he or she a good person or a bad person? A fighter or a wimp?

Character is the spirit of that person. Writing strong characterization is important.

List some traits for your protagonist. For your antagonist. For supporting characters.

  • lazy
  • energetic
  • in-your-face
  • quiet, shy
  • invisible
  • intrusive
  • kind
  • selfish
  • egotistical
  • insecure
  • scared
  • trusting
  • inspiring to those around them
  • a teacher
  • a student of life
  • religious
  • sarcastic
  • insulting
  • appreciative
  • patronizing
  • inquisitive
  • studious
  • loving
  • So much to choose from! What is the spirit of your characters?

Make Your Character Likable From the Start

Make Your Character Likable From the Start

If you want your readers to root for your lead character, you need to do something early on to make sure that you’ve earned that. Without a character to root for, your story has nothing going for it.

Your readers need to identify with someone early, and if your characters are generally unlikable, even if you may think they’re interesting, it simply isn’t enough to sustain a story.

  • Write strong dialogue that shows how witty or charming your character is.
  • Or use action, showing a selfless act early on in the story to establish them as a positive force.

6-Months to a Novel

6-Months to a Novel

How long does it take to write a novel? That question reminds me of an old tootsie pop commercial – “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?” Remember that one? I think it was three. Lick, lick, crunch!

It can take a year or longer to write a novel. But it can also take shorter. Set a timeline for yourself. Try it. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay. You readjust the timeline. But for starters, set a goal to write a novel in 6 months.

Before you start, know your genre, your audience, the number of main characters, the setting and the situation that starts the whole story. Got it? Write that down.

Set a time limit to write each day. Start the first month with one hour a day. Don’t do anything else during your set-aside writing time. Keep it sacred!

As time permits, increase it. An hour and a half a day. Give yourself a 2-hour of editing time once a week. Do not edit while you write. Save that for the editing block. But you still have to have the hour of writing. Editing is not writing.

And somewhere between life and your writing time each day, READ each day. I always read for about a half hour right before I go to sleep. You have to keep reading. As Stephen King says, “if you want to be a good writer, you have to do two things: write a lot and read a lot.” Trust me on this one!

Find a good editor. Give yourself some down time. And don’t stop.

Read it out loud when you’re done. This will help you find areas that don’t flow right. Get feedback. Don’t rush it. Have beta readers. Three is a good number.

Don’t ever underestimate yourself. Don’t worry if ‘it’s good enough’. That can all be worked out much later. First, you just need to get the story down.


Fear of Marketing Your Book?

Fear of Marketing Your Book?

It’s scary out there in the literary jungle of platforms, social media, book stores, book signing events, traditional and independent publishing. Even an agent isn’t going to save you.

Here’s a mini-course on book marketing. Anything that we can whittle down to baby steps becomes easier naturally. No difference here.

  1. Don’t try to do it all at once. Do three things to market your book each day. Set aside five to ten minutes a day to do these three things. And your three things don’t have to be substantial. They can be as simple as sending a ‘thank you’ note.
  2. Create incentive. Run a promotion on your social media and offer a prize to one lucky winner. Maybe a free book? An amazon gift card? They can become eligible by writing a review on amazon, sharing your book post on their social media and tagging you with a special code for you to follow it.
  3. Reach out to at least one author in your genre. Networking helps you remain current on what others are also doing in your market.
  4. Keep your website fresh by adding book reviews and other relevant content. Make sure your branding of yourself and your website fit the type of readers you want to reach.
  5. Post a comment on the blog of another author that has a similar fan base.
  6. Send a thank you note. Anyone and everyone who has done anything to further your writing career (from a book reviewer to a book seller) deserves a personal thanks.
  7. Join writing groups, critique groups, and / or book clubs. I belong to all three! is one of Idaho’s most complete organizations for writers of all levels.
  8. Donate books to your local library. And make sure they’re autographed!
  9. Organize your own events to promote your books. I always have a book release party downtown in some hot spot. They’re very successful.