Sunday, July 14, 2013


For the second year in a row I traveled to Canyon, Texas and West Texas A&M University for the Writer’s Academy. The Academy is unlike a conference because participants choose an author with plenty of experience and name recognition to lead a specific group throughout the week.

It is a week of work beginning with informative lessons for every student at 8 am. Then, at 8:30 everyone takes off to their chosen class. Other classes occur in the afternoon. The groups choose what time to break and what time to return. Our group took a brief lunch and returned to class following the afternoon information class. We left each evening with homework.

Now, for more specific information. I chose to attend the workshop led by Alexandra Sokoloff, best selling New York Times author of thrillers and horror. Alex worked for many years in Hollywood as a screenwriter before turning to writing novels. She led our group in using the 3 Act 8 Sequence format for mapping out/outlining a novel. By the time the week was done each of us had our current work in progress mapped out and ready to write. We had eleven in our class. The experience level was unpublished to multi-published. The genres represented were Christian Romance, Science Fiction, Mainstream Mystery, Fantasy, Police Procedural Thriller, Women’s Fiction, and Paranormal/Time Travel Romance. At the end of the week Alex told us that each of us had potential bestsellers in our hands. Can you imagine how those words energized this tired group?

Alex has two workbooks using the 3 Act 8 Sequence format for writers available at Amazon for $2.99 each. I recommend each of them.




The Writer’s Academy is the dream and brain child of bestselling romance author, Jodi Thomas and musician/actor/author Tim Lewis. The popularity of this event is becoming well known and is popular.
Other class leaders this year were Margie Lawson teaching Creating Characters. Margie is a writing coach and author. She offers in depth courses in Deep Editing and Creating Characters as well as Immersion classes for small groups. She’s a small package of energy and knowledge. Find out more about Margie at
Margie and Me
Tim Lewis led the early morning Secrets of Publication. He has had a successful career but his dream will hit bookshelves in September. His novel, based on the true story of his great uncle, is being buzzed as the book that will hit as a bestseller and is being optioned for foreign rights and movie rights. The title is FOREVER FRIDAY. I guarantee this is a book everyone will want. You can reach Tim at
Jennifer Archer led a group seeking knowledge about writing and the business. She has several novels out and is a very popular author in west Texas. She can be reached at
Mike Bellah worked with a group wanting to write and publish memoirs. He is published in that genre and is a journalist. Find out more at
Linda Castillo was the keynote speaker at our banquet. She is inspiring and gives hope to others with every word. Amazing woman. Reach her at
Friday morning began with a question and answer panel featuring Alexandra Sokoloff, Margie Lawson, Jennifer Archer, Jodi Thomas, and Mike Bellah. Very interesting stuff. 


It isn’t all work at the Academy. There is movie night, the Panhandle Museum on campus, dinner at the best Mexican restaurant in the world, living in a dorm, spontaneous discussions in the lobby of the dorm, and making friends in the writing world. 

I believe any writer can find value at the Academy. I plan to go each year unless family obligations prevent it. It takes place in June each year. Save your money! I ask for the tuition as a Christmas gift each year. The tuition is approximately $500, the dorm is $25 an night ($125), there isn’t much time to go out and spend other money except for food but the dorm suites have kitchens. The Academy provides breakfast. Most of us gathered for lunch in the student union and snacked at night. Our group did go out twice. Canyon is the home of the Palo Duro Canyon which is the second largest canyon in the Unites States. It is breathtaking. This part of the country is where I was raised so it felt like going home to me. Find out more at




Friday, June 7, 2013

Learning in Canyon

Tomorrow I'll be leaving for a five day, intense work shop in Canyon, Texas. The Writer's Academy is sponsored by West Texas A&M University and Jodi Thomas, Writer in Residence. I went for the first time last year and knew on the first day that this would be one educational opportunity I would strive for each year.

Last year I was in Jodi Thomases class. We worked on the first 30 pages of our manuscripts together. I received 13 critiques and discussion. We all did. The novel I took "Dianne's Destiny", is now under contract. I couldn't be more pleased--and, a bit terrified, of the work after the contract. It is daunting for a debut novelist.

This year my instructor will be Alexandra Sokoloff. She's doing a workshop using screenwriting tricks for novelists. Her workbook is available. The link to her blog is

We will be using index cards and plotting our current works-in-progress to outline and plan the entire book. The participants who were in Alex's class last year had nothing but praise. Some are returning.

Enjoy your week. Write as much as possible. Read as much as possible. I'll be catching you on the flip side with knowledge I'll be eager to share. In the meantime, allow your mind to wander and wonder with words.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Contracts and Moving Forward

My goodness! I've received my first contract. It is for a novella I've written as part of a series 'Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll' for The Wild Rose Press. The title is "Dianne's Destiny".  Receiving that contract in my e-mail thrilled me like few things ever have. I wonder if others have felt that excitement that makes the heart beat faster, smiles and laughter to erupt unbidden followed by the feeling that this just can't be true. But, it is. I feel better able to write more, to finish the works I have in progress.

"Dianne's Destiny" began as "Hearts and Horses". Much of the book takes place in an arena for equestrian therapy. The names of the main characters had to be changed because they were too close to another book in the series.

I'm learning to write an author bio. Choose a graphic artist from the talented group at The Wild Rose Press. The beginnings of successful marketing and social media. It is all confusing but I have a wonderful editor, Ally Robertson and friends who are successful authors. And, next year I will be able to attend the TWRP writer's retreat at the Silver Spur Ranch in Bandera, TX.

Visit for a full list of the novellas waiting to be purchased and read. Learn about the scrimshaw doll that carries a curse only broken by true love. I've read them all and think one of the best thing readers will find is that each book is a stand alone story. The voices of each author is clear. The talent is astounding.

The Scrimshaw Doll authors are part of the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America We call ourselves Wild Okies. The books available in the series include:
"Trail of Hope' by Heidi Vanlandingham
"The Bone Bride" by Tamrie Foxtail
"Skinbound' by Anna Kittrell
"Thicker than Water" by Alicia Dean
"Tessa's Treasures" by Callie Hutton
"The Color of Betrayal" by Kathy L. Wheeler
"Pirate's Proposal" by Diana Layne and
"Home" by Calisa Rhose

Share with me and my followers how you felt when you received your first contract? If you are self-published how did you feel when you saw that first cover? Share your experiences. I would love to start a thread on my blog about the feelings, fears, and faith involved in writing. In the meantime, keep writing . . .