Muse… What Muse?

Do you have a favorite place to write
or can you write anywhere?

Does your music need to be just so?  
Perhaps you have a special writing pen
or tchotcky that acts as your muse?  

No? Never fear – we can help you!

During the month of November we visit many places in our quest to complete the 50K word challenge. Libraries and coffee houses, video hangouts and chat rooms, sandwich shops and the ever popular *personal home are our hosts.  One is sure to work for you!

Is your music just not cutting it anymore? Spokane Nano writers freely share their play lists on the forum. Peruse their choices and try one or two out. You might find you like it!

Need a muse and not an inner editor? Visit a write-in and pick one up!  You’ll discover them hiding in Word Wars, the Haunted Book of Challenges and in the Bucket of Goodness. On very rare occasions, they peek out of your MLs’ pockets! In addition, MLs offer a safe place to drop off your inner editor. It can play with the others, while you work without interruption!

Be brave! Tell us what you need to write this November and throughout the year.

*No personal homes revealed or outed. A woman’s home is her kingdom after all.  

September Writing Challenge

It’s Sunday! Not just any Sunday, but Writing Challenge Sunday.  Everyone in Eastern Washington is aware of the wildfires raging near Wenatchee.  It’s caused many a headache, heartache and sneeze.  The photo below was posted on McGlinn’s Public House’s Facebook page along with several others.

Here are the rules:  Using the photo below and any caption, write a scene, short story or excerpt.  If you post it online, please add a link to the webpage it resides in the comments.  Do not post the entire scene, etc. in the comment, just the link to it.


“Day 13: The smoke has finally reached the shore. Beyond it, nothing moves, there is no sound. It will reach the house tomorrow.”

Guest Book Review: “Rock Your Plot”

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and if you’re like the rest of us, you alternately panic about and ignore that fact.  To help you out, we’re changing how often the site is updated. From now one, you’ll be treated to a post every Sunday. The first two Sundays will be random ideas, the fourth Sunday will be a writing challenge complete with a photo for inspiration, and the third Sunday of each month will offer a writing related book review posted by one of you! Yes I know that is out of order; just think of it as good practice for NaNo.  Not everything has to be written in a linear fashion.

Today’s guest is Stacy Jones.  See what she has to say about “Rock Your Plot” by Cathy Yardley. See you next week!



ImageThree Bucks for Twelve Steps to One Rockin’ Plot!

By Stacy Jones


A few months ago, I was sitting at my desk attempting to do whatever it is that we do to force words out of our brains and onto keyboards and pages. I was communing with my muse. I was channeling the spirits of dead ancestors who had faith that, one day, I could become a famous, and properly published, writer. I was in the zone and it felt great. As I sat there, preparing to set my fingers to the keys, I reviewed my outline to figure out where I wanted to dive in. I’d been struggling with this for days, trying to figure out what was going on so that I could get past the block and just write. Then it hit me, doing the work wasn’t a challenge. The act of writing itself wasn’t what was setting me back. It was my plot.

It stunk.

I had no idea how certain scenes connected with each other and the whole thing read like one of those eBooks you download for free off the internet on the recommendation of some random stranger, only to discover that you’ve read through book five of a ten book series and you have just realized that the main character is annoying and you can’t stand to read anything about her anymore. Sure, those books have their place in my collection, but I wasn’t writing that kind of story. My plot needed some serious doctoring.

I found my answer on the Internet when I came across a book called, “Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel” by Cathy Yardley. It was available for Kindle and it was three bucks. I figured that, for three bucks, it was worth a shot. I expected to find the usual dry, boring instructions on how to do something one author’s way and I was thinking that maybe I could use some of the included ideas for story writing to get mine moving, but that’s not what I got. When I finished reading and working the exercises in this book, much to my surprise, I had a complete outline for my story that made sense.

Outlining has always been difficult for me. I’ve tried the Snowflake Method, sticky notes on the back of my office door and several other techniques to get my outlines to come together. I found that many of those tools are really useful for building characters and putting together the backstory for your novel, but none of them really helped guide me down a path that would get my plots to gel. I expected to get similar results with the “Rock Your Plot” method too, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself getting really into the process once I started doing the exercises in the book. My characters started to come alive and their story had a purpose and meaning to it that I hadn’t been able to discover on my own. I also had exactly the sort of plot that I wanted when I was done. I didn’t end up with a carbon copy of some plot the author guided me through the process of creating. It had my twists and turns in it. It’s completely original. Instead of giving out bogus writing exercises that churns out material can never be used again, Yardley takes you through laying out the building blocks for your own novel. Her method is not genre specific, it’s enjoyable to read and easy to work through. The whole process is about your characters, your story and your ideas and it encourages you to build on those things until you have a stable framework from which to write a piece of just about any length. Yardley also has downloadable worksheets on her website that you can print out to assist you with doing the exercises in this book and a wonderful list of other books for writing references at the back, so if you find yourself in need of more plotting assistance, she’s already done much of the research for you.

I wasn’t expecting much for my three bucks, but I have to tell you that this is the probably best three bucks I’ve spent on a book in a while! Once I was finished ‘rocking my plot’, I haven’t had to focus so much on how and when and where things are going to happen in my story. That’s already been planned, in advance.

All I have to do now, is write.

Stacy Jones is a freelance writer and has been a NaNoWriMo participant since 2008. She is a mother of two human children and three Labrador Retrievers and maintains a blog about their antics, and whatever else happens to come to mind at the time. You may visit her blog at

Which do you prefer?

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” ~ Isaac Asimov

There is an interesting challenge going around – handwriting your novel instead of typing it.  The basic premise behind handwriting a novel is this: the slower pace creates a better story and in transcribing it afterward to the computer you are already performing your first edit.

Of course, that means for you outliners/plotters of NaNo it requires a bit more pre-planning than normal, allocating pages per scene, etc.  And for you freewriters/pantsers, you could really write yourself into a black hole and have to come up with some wild and crazy way to redeem your story.  Both varieties mean an increase in pen and paper consumption (stock in Staples anyone?) and perhaps even some muscle rub for the overused writing hand. But it could be fun.  No, really.  NaNo is all about getting the story out and not deleting anything.  What better way to not delete than by handwriting?  You might have to get creative and find paper you’re more likely to not tear up and throw away (composition books?), but you get to use all kinds of cool, colorful pens and pencils.  I prefer flat-nibbed fountain pens myself.  The writing looks so elegant; just don’t read it.

Your clever MLs (us) even have a NaNo approved way of verifying your word count should you hand write your story this year.  Plus, we can give you a math formula to calculate WPM so you can participate in Word Wars.  The choice is really up to you.

What is your favorite way to write, and why?

*For more information about handwriting vs keyboarding, visit the links listed below.

Dan Absalonson:

Kelly Thompkins:

Fountain Pen Network:

Patrick McLean:

Mmmm, tomatoes!

“The Slow Writing Movement” by Cathy Yardly

Is your writing a business? Or perhaps art? Have you considered it similar to farming?  Cathy Yardley has.  Her latest blog, The Slow Writing Movement, discusses how to enjoy your writing and make it a sustainable crop. She uses heirloom tomatoes instead of books, but don’t let that stop you from reading.  Here’s a sample:

“While a delicious, luscious heirloom tomato can be a thing of art, I don’t think farmers think of themselves as artists.  They know that there’s craft, science, and hard work in what they do.  The plants don’t give a damn if your Muse is feeling recalcitrant.  The land needs what it needs.  And every day is different.”

She mentions a writing group like a Guild in the comments: a group of writers that help each other grow their sustainable “crop” of writing; a place where writing is a favorite crop to be grown, shared and enjoyed by friends; where editing equals weeding a garden.  Check out Ms. Yardley’s blog and join us in farming.