Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Call for Help

by Donna K. Weaver

Sometimes, as writers and authors, we have opportunities to give voice to social causes. We have connections with people--both in person and online--that we can use to help bring attention to an issue.

That's what this post is about today.

In my day job, my office is a passport acceptance facility. As part of the oath we give people, there's reference to something the federal government calls "sex tourism." I'd never heard of it and eventually had to look it up.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as (bolding is mine):
the act of travelling to another country
for the purpose of paying to have sex, especially with children

Um ...

Then I saw on the evening news a report about Operation Underground Railroad and I actually heard the term sex tourism on TV. Not long after that, I read a magazine article that also talked about the work of this organization.

Since hearing about this situation, I haven't been able to the plight of these children out of my mind. Now that I knew about it, I couldn't just sit around and do nothing.

I'm proud to say that I'm now an Abolitionist.

And I'm not alone.

Laura Johnston and I have worked with other authors, including many members of the iWriteNetwork family, to host a campaign to raise money to help fund a rescue mission. The idea was to invite authors to donate books as rewards for people who donate to O.U.R.

This is when Authors United Against Child Slavery was born.

 Give freedom. Get a book
  • Donate $20 to receive a free book from a participating author (book prizes selected at random).
  • Donors of $40 or more will receive two free books, a series, or a bundle (selected at random as well). 
Operation Underground Railroad, working with the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, is a project of Child Rescue Association of North America, a nonprofit organization. Therefore, all donations are tax deductible. 
The response has been amazing! Hundreds of books have been donated. 

Now we need to find homes for all of those books.
Can you help spread the word?

Donate to O.U.R.: Authors United Against Child Slavery Campaign Page
Sign Up Form for Authors and book bloggers who wish to help


Tuesday, May 12, 2015


The fall Retreat will be held
 September 17-20 in Draper, UT!

Theme: Harry Potter

How to sign up for this retreat: 
FYI: All meals are included AND there will be mini-workshops on
Nonsense Incantations (Brainstorming),
Transfiguration Spells (Story Beats),
Using the Room of Requirement (Things hidden in plain sight),
Amortentia and other Love Potions (Romance…),
Divination (marketing)
Defense Against the Dark Arts (All about villains).  

See pics of the awesome accommodations for the retreat under the retreat tab.

Sign ups open Saturday, May 16th at 8am, Mountain time zone. NO EARLIER.
Yes, that is the second day of LDStorymakers—Plan ahead to send your email at 8. Have your Paypal account accessible to pay too.

1. Pick which bed type/price you would like (see below)

2. Send an email to iWriteNetwork@gmail.com with your first and second (if you have one) preference. Include if you want 1 payment or 3 payments. Give me the email address you use for Paypal.

3. We will send you a confirmation email and a link to pay-through Paypal- (You may choose to split your payment into three and send one third immediately, the second payment on June 15th and the last payment on July 15th. You must pay in full by July 15th.)  We must have your payment within one hour of receiving your confirmation email or your spot will be given to the next person in line.

NO REFUNDS - sorry & thank you. (You can, however, transfer your bed to someone else if you discover you are unable to attend.)

Bed Options and Rates:  (If you are planning to choose a queen or a king bed, you might want to find someone to be your roomie if you care who is in the bed with you.)
Anything not highlighted is available.

BR #1 (The Man Cave We currently have 4 other men signed up already--but each is sharing a room with his wife.)

Full over Full, 1 spot each bed $190 top, $200 bottom  $190   $200
twin trundle spot $160
Full over Full, 1 spot each bed $190 top, $200 bottom  $190   $200

BR #2
King bed 2 spots $240 each    $240    $240

BR #3
Queen bed with private bath, 2 spots, $250 each  $250  $250

BR #4
King with bathroom 2 spots $275 each  $275  $275

BR #5
Full over Full, 1 spot each bed $190 top, $200 bottom  $190   $200
Twin trundle, 1 spot $160
Twin top bunk 1 spot, $150
Twin bottom bunk 1 spot, $175

BR #6
King bed 2 spots $240 each    $240  $240

BR #7
Full over Full, 1 spot each bed $190 top, $200 bottom  $190   $200
Twin trundle, 1 spot $160
Full over Full, 1 spot each bed $190 top, $200 bottom  $190   $200

BR #8
Queen bed with, 2 spots, $225 each  $225  $225

BR #9
Twin top bunk 1 spot, $150
Twin bottom bunk 1 spot, $175
Full over Full, 1 spot each bed $190 top, $200 bottom  $190   $200
Twin trundle, 1 spot $160
We are so exited to have you join us!! Have Questions? Email us at


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What's Your Process?

Every writer has their own process when it comes to writing. Some outline down to the very scene before they write one word of story. They know what their characters look like, what their middle names are, and what color of underwear they prefer. (Okay, maybe not their underwear. But they do know a lot about their characters.Other writers sit down with just a glimmer of an idea, maybe a shred of a conversation, and start hammering it out without a clue as to where they're going. Of course, there are many other processes that can range anywhere along that spectrum.

So what's the right way? How should we approach our writing?

The answer is simple - whatever way works best for you.

I have a friend - we'll call her Karen Hoover, because that's her name - who creates booklets about each of her projects. She finds pictures of people who resemble her characters, she makes maps of her towns, and she outlines each scene. This takes her a little while, but then when she gets to the writing, she can knock out ten thousand words a day because she knows exactly where she's going.

Then I have another friend. Okay, I give - it's me.  I usually start out with a kernel of an idea, and I'll sit down and just start writing. At the bottom of my document, as I discover what they are, I keep a list of things I will need to go back and add later. I also keep a list of ideas for future scenes. I'm essentially plotting as I go, and then on the second draft, I'll go through and make sure it all makes sense.

Karen's system works for Karen. My system works for me. And you most likely have a system that works for you.

So whenever you hear someone talk about how you "should" be writing, take a moment to think about it - would that method really work for you? If not, don't worry about it. Whatever allows you to be the most productive is what you should be doing. Just as your craft is unique to you, so is your method of arriving at a completed project. Don't let anyone mess up your groove.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Smashwords vs. Draft2Digital and a bonus

If you self-publish, you've probably heard some debate over whether to use D2D or Smashwords. If
you are thinking of self-punishing, you definitely want to be up on the debate.

There are many, many different sites to upload your books (think B&N.com, Amazon, iTunes, etc). For a small percentage of sales, D2D and Smashwords will deliver your book to many of those sites for you. Smashwords has been around for years. D2D is the new guy on the block.

Why would you give up a bit of your sales to them?
It's simple. It takes time to upload your books-time you could be using to WRITE, your #1 job. And it can save you a ton of hassle. thanks to Humblehandmaid for the pic.

Here are the basic differences as I see it.

Basically, you upload your book to either D2D and Smashwords and then they send it to the places you tell it to.

Smashwords delivers to 13 sites, D2D to 8.

Both distribute to Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Page Foundry, and Flipkart

Above and beyond that:

Smashwords delivers to Oyster, Baker and Taylor Blio, TXTR, Baker and Taylor Axis 360, Overdrive (libraries), and Flipkart

D2D- Tolino, Createspace

Congratulations! You've made it /12 way through this post, which is truly too long. You deserve a great perk! Click here and download Watched for FREE AND get the audio for only $1.99. No kidding. Go snag them. Audio plus eBook for only 1.99 today. Yahoo!

Uploading ease:

Smashwords: The document must be formatted according to the free Style Guide available on the site. Then the meat grinder pushes it out in a bunch of different formats. If you don't want to do this yourself, there are people who will guarantee results for $35 bucks. Awesome deal or slog through the guide a few times and become a pro and do it yourself for free.

D2D: It's pretty easy and you can even upload a pretty crude word document, but the results are sketchy if you don't do pre-formatting like Smashwords has you do.


Smashwords: email support only. I've heard grumbles about them taking forever to get back to people. I haven't had that experience. They've been extremely helpful and quick-within hours of asking the question I have answers and great help. No phone support

D2D: Phone and email support: Super supportive and fast.


Smashwords pays every quarter-so every three months. A lot of people don't like that. I don't mind.

D2D pays monthly


One feature I really love on Smashwords that is not available on D2D is coupons. You can make your book free or discount it with these coupons. The great part is that only the people you want to get the discount get it. What does that mean for you? You can have the regular price everywhere and then give your street team or friends a coupon code that gives it to them for free or a discount. You can tailor your sales that way. I use it for giving out eArcs too. So handy and your reader can choose any of their formats to download it in.

Maybe I'm partial because I met Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, in New York last year and thought he was pretty darn amazing, but I truly love the quality of service I get from Smashwords.

I hear over and over again that people like the ease of use of D2D better than Smashwords. Also, the feature to modify links for each vendor is a great addition to D2D that Smashwords does not now have. I haven't had a problem with Smashwords in over five years and love them. You must decide what's best for you, however. You may love Smashwords like I do, or your heart might beat for D2D like so many others.

In the end, both take 10% of your profits, both have up to date sales information and reporting (although I do like D2D's dashboard better), both offer pre-orders, both let you price your book for free, and both offer isbn's. So pick your poison. Try both and see which fits you better.

Which service do you use, Smashwords or D2D. 
What do you like best about them?
Did you get your free book and ridiculously cheap audio book?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


by Donna K. Weaver

So you've wondered if punctuation is important?

Check out the meaning of the following two Dear John letters, the only changes being some itty-bitty punctuation alterations.
Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy. Will you let me be yours?

And what if we put the punctuation in different places?
Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Um, yeah.

Source: all over the place. I came across it years ago in an email that was going around.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Save the Date for the most EPIC retreat yet!

We are having another retreat in September. When we are in the early planning stages, we always choose a theme to use to help us focus on classes that our previous attendees, and those who comment are asking for. This time we did it a little different, we choose the theme from a book. What book (series) could we choose that could help us learn and have a blast?


Hunger Games?

Lord of the Rings?

Nope. Nope. and Nope.

Drum Roll please. . . .

The theme for the September iWriteNetwork Retreat is . . .

Harry Potter!

Class schedules and menu will match the theme and will be announced at a later date.
The retreat will be September 17-20th in Heber, UT

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Story Beats

One of the activities we have at retreat is a movie night. We sit together in the theatre room and watch a film, identifying the story beats as we go. This helps us clarify what the beats look like and how we can recognize the transitions between them. There is always a huge setting change between beats. We use a sheet to record the events as the story unfolds and clarify what each of the story elements contribute to the unfolding plot.

Although this book is written for screenwriting, it follows the Hero's Journey, which is the basis for much of novel writing. Of course, storytelling is storytelling!

While studying this book, I took a few notes to help me consider while writing. We don't do a lot of outlining, but we do jot notes for each major story element. A picture of the simple organizer we use is at the bottom of this post. We start with identifying what the character most wants and go from there.

Here are the elements:

Opening Image & Set up
Hook the reader with emotion, action, or character/voice
Every character introduced or hinted at
Plant character ticks
MC has 6 things that need fixing (we don't always have 6--but we try to)
Foreshadow main events
Theme posed to MC in conversation


Life Changing Event
This leads to the happiness in the end

Asks question that will focus the story around the evidence of your argument for the answer you give at the end of the story
“This is Crazy”
Other choices that could be taken
Yes, and why
No, and why

Break into Act 2
Choice is made
Leaves the “old” world
Opposite world (features or why is it opposite)
MC makes a clear decision to do this

B Story
Meet someone new
Love story (romanic, friends, family, self…)
Goes slightly of theme
MC to be nurtured, taught, advised and prepared
Confides in this person
Draws strength from here
New characters are opposite from set up scenes

Fun & Games
Some play, fun, fascination
Personality shines here
Take a break from the stakes
Lighter tone, think musical montage here

Is the situation going Up or Down for the main character?
Up—living in a false peak or success over antagonist
Down—world crashes in false destruction because of antagonist
MC shares this moment with other Main characters
Stakes raised a LOT in win or lose situation

Bad Guys Close In
Bad Guys regroup
Heavy artillery External
Heavy emotional artillery
Leading to a reversal of the midpoint in the next section
MC is on her/his own now

All is Lost
All aspects of MC’s life are in shambles
Whiff of Death (mentor, acquaintance, or some random event)

Dark Night of the Soul
MC is beaten and knows it

Break into Act 3
MC digs deep
Finds last piece needed to save or solve

Makes a new effort with lessons learned
Tics are mastered
Hero/Protag figures out how to do what must be done
Showdown with major and minor characters are involved
Minor villains are neutralized before the villain
A-Story resolved
B-Story resolved

Final Image
Creation of new “world” for the MC
Opposite of opening image
Proof that change has occurred
Back to the theme in some way