Introducing Story Mastermind

Have you ever wanted to take a small group writing workshop intensive program in your pajama pants? Well, here’s your chance!

Those of you who know me, know I’m not the most productive person. I take my time. I don’t bite off more than I can chew. JUST KIDDING. I’m a maniac. In fact, I sell a shirt over at Good Story that says “Beast mode is the best mode,” because this happens to be my personal motto.

So, in addition to shepherding my dozens of current editorial clients (and a team of ten) through the current apocalypse, launching a digital learning resource about marketing for writers (more on that soon), and, I don’t know, actively trying not to die, I have developed a new intensive small group writing workshop program called Story Mastermind!

story mastermind, writing workshop, small group writing workshop, writing intensive, remote writing workshop

Introducing Story Mastermind

What is Story Mastermind? Well, good question. It’s a small group writing workshop that you can do from home. Originally, my dream was to throw an in-person writing intensive over the course of a long weekend. This is my favorite working style for writers conferences, and so it has always been my dream to launch my own.

The climate for in-person events has recently shifted. Drastically.

I’m no longer dreaming of an in-person opportunity, at least for now.

Besides, I think we all are learning that we can be productive at home, and it’s less hassle and expense than traveling somewhere. So I thought …

Why not change with the times and offer this type of opportunity remotely?

I also decided that I could get a lot more teaching done by expanding the scope of the writing intensive. Sure, attendees benefit from one very intense weekend of programming. But what about something that’s between a conference and an MFA program?

What if I could promise some really amazing deliverables? Well, I’d need more time with the students. But not two years, like a lot of MFA programs. What about six months?

The Structure of Story Mastermind

Here is the result of my brainstorm: a six-month writing workshop intensive.

Our initial session is launching July 1st and will run through the end of the year. Another cohort will launch January 1st.

Who is this program for? Well, three types of writer, to start:

  1. Novelists working on a new draft
  2. Novelists working on a revision of a draft
  3. Picture book writers

For the novelists, I am looking for middle grade and young adult writers only. Other masterminds (adult fiction, individual genre fiction, memoir, etc.) may become available according to demand, but for now, I’m starting in my home base of children’s fiction.

For six months, we will do small group video sessions online every other week. (There will be one month of preparation before the class starts so we can all be on the same page with one another’s writing.) These sessions will be mostly workshop driven, with some lecturing from me and one other dedicated staff member. Group sizes will be small: six writers per novel cohort, and twelve writers per picture book cohort.

At the end of our time together, the three types of writer will have:

  1. Novel Mastermind students leave with a complete and fully workshopped first manuscript draft
  2. Revision Mastermind students leave with a fully polished and workshopped final manuscript draft and a submission plan
  3. Picture Book Mastermind students will leave with six fully workshopped and polished manuscripts and a submission plan

The goal of many MFA programs is to support you in creating one manuscript, which is considered your thesis. Most programs last two years and cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars—even the remote, low-residency options.

That just doesn’t fit our contemporary world, or the lifestyles of a lot of my clients. That’s why I’m so happy to start offering Story Mastermind as an alternate solution for busy modern writers who still want workshop, who still want an industry focus, and who still want to create creative output that will help them reach their goals.

Learn More and Apply

Applications for the first session of Story Mastermind are now live. They are due by April 17th. You can read over the Story Mastermind website, dive into the FAQ, learn about pricing, and access the application here.

This is the first session and it will be a learning experience for me and my team, as well as the writers who are accepted into the program. As such, the pricing is be lower than it will ever appear again. Future sessions are going to be priced more competitively, to reflect the incredible amount of work and personal attention that this program demands.

The great news is that one or two seats per cohort are reserved for a “pay what you can” scholarship–more important now than ever.

Applications are already flooding in, and we will have a very tough admissions process on our hands behind the scenes. If you’re at all interested, please check out the Story Mastermind website to learn more.

 

Novel Outline Template

By very, very, very popular demand, here’s a PDF download of a novel outline template. You have been asking for one for years, but the closest I’ve ever written is this short article on a novel synopsis. Well, I’ve rectified that today!

You can also grab it directly via this Google Drive link. (To use the document in your own Google Drive, simply make a copy of it by going to the File menu, then to “Make a copy”. You won’t be able to edit the original because I want everyone to have this template.)

novel outline template
Fill in this template to start charting your own novel outline. It’s good stuff!

To download the PDF version of this file, please click here: Novel Outline Template

Writers want to see examples of a novel outline template because there are so many ways to achieve this. What goes into a novel outline? How do you format it? This is certainly one way to organize an outline, but there are many other writers and writing teachers who have put together comprehensive advice and their own novel outline templates. (Two of my favorites are Fool Proof Outline and Outlining Your Novel).

Start here and see where it takes you. Most of my readers know that I’ve been teaching the concept of interiority for years, and so this outline goes into character arc a lot, not just plot arc. I think it’s the best of both worlds, but would love to hear your reactions in the comments when you use it!

As a freelance editor, I do the novel outline edit all the time. Do all the hard thinking ahead of time. Kick the tires of your idea. Pressure test your plot and character arcs. I can do one or multiple rounds to make sure you have a road map for your future draft nailed down before you sit down to write. This is honestly one of my favorite services to do because we can anticipate a lot of issues ahead of time and save you so much revision heartache.

 

 

Hiring Executive Assistant!

Our admin support is graduating college and leaving the nest, so I’m looking for a dedicated, hard-working, fun, and energetic executive assistant for me as I manage clients, projects, and launch two new businesses this year. Interested in helping Mary Kole Editorial and Good Story Company thrive, and thriving with us? Read on!

Look at how much fun we’re having!

Job Skills

I run a high six-figure editorial business with a team of ten and more than 600 projects annually. I’ve developed a system that helps me give my best to all of the amazing writers who want to work with me—but I need someone to help me keep things moving.

We will train you up in all of the functions required, but it will help if you’re already comfortable with, proficient in, or at least very driven to learn:

  • Google Suite: Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms
  • HoneyBook: a mostly automated client management system that we use to move projects through the pipeline, you’ll be monitoring the calendar and inbox here, returning projects on my behalf, as well as sending some manual messages and reminders
  • Trello: a project management interface where you will set up our editorial team for success
  • Dropbox: a file management system where you will create client folders
  • MailChimp: pulling together existing content for email newsletters
  • YouTube: uploading, describing, and scheduling videos
  • Zoho: some monthly data entry into a database form
  • Social Media: Instagram and Pinterest fluency—I’m looking for a design driven person to help with the “visual” social media
  • Design: Photoshop, InDesign and Canva skills a huge bonus!

Fluent and engaging written communication skills are a must, as you’re representing a company that is for writers, by writers. Excellent accountability is my top priority. You need to be driven enough to motivate yourself and communicate about any potential problems (like missing a deadline) way ahead of time.

I don’t have the bandwidth or energy to chase an assistant around and constantly check in, nor do I want to set up that kind of overbearing dynamic. I want you to be very excited to kick butt independently!

Job Details

This is a remote position. You can work from anywhere, but for tax reasons, you will need to be based in the US and legally eligible to work. This is a contractor position, so tax withholding is not provided. You are responsible for withholding your own income taxes and reporting your earnings to the IRS.  You will receive a 1099 instead of a W2 each year.

Since we do not provide benefits like health care or a 401k, I make it a point to provide learning, growth, personal, and professional development opportunities. My marketing person is currently enrolled in about $10,000+ worth of classes. Two weeks ago, I hosted an all expense paid four-day retreat in Arizona for my entire team.

Hourly wages are based on qualifications. I am looking for a firm commitment of 10-15 hours per week. I am also looking for someone who can be dedicated to this job and this company for years. I love my team to bits. I hate making changes to my team or suddenly being left with a position to fill. If you’re committed to us, we will be 100% committed to you.

We welcome the opportunity to hear from diverse applicants!

Company Culture

I’m Mary and I have been in the publishing business for 10+ years. I started Kidlit in 2009, published my book Writing Irresistible Kidlit in 2012, founded Mary Kole Editorial in 2013, and Good Story Company in 2019.

At Mary Kole Editorial and Good Story Company, we believe in helping all writers unlock their potential. We’re also passionate about doing good. This year, I launched the Good Story Grant and gave away an award of $2,000 to one writer to enable them to make an amazing dream come true for her project, and $500 so a runner up could take a very important trip. I can’t wait to see what kind of creativity the Good Story Grant facilitates in the future!

I’m a female founder working my way up in the business world and building a company that makes a difference. My team is a fun and motivated crew of writers, creatives, nerds (said with so much love!) and more. Our work, from the editorial team to the marketing team, is highly creative. But we’re successful, too, and only working to become more so!

More than anything, I want to inspire my future executive assistant and give you the tools and firsthand experience of what it means to run an amazing independent  business. My dream for you is that you stay with me for a long time, but then maybe go on to build something yourself, using what you’ve learned!

How to Apply

Thank you so much for your interest, but this opportunity is closed. I’m leaving this page up in case anyone ever wants to learn more about GSC and what we do!

Writing the Premise of a Story Before Writing the Story

Ever thought about writing the premise of a story before writing the actual story? No? Well, put on your open-mindedness hats, guys, because it’s about to get real. (Agents hate her! Learn the one writing secret to save yourself years of frustration!) No, but seriously…

It’s a pitch. Get it? The premise of a story is also known as the pitch, but I’m not calling it that because pitching makes writers nervous.

What is the Premise of a Story?

The premise of a story is what your story is about. Simple.

Oh, you want more? Okay…

I give this talk on self-editing for fiction writers (which you can play on-demand on Udemy or wait for the free webinar) and I always start the talk very, very, very zoomed out. I ask writers about their “Mission Statement,” which is another way of talking about the premise or the “what is your story about”.

Basically, it’s a combination of your character’s main transformational experience (do characters have to change?), the story that takes them to that experience, and a sense of your theme.

For example:

A girl who is accidentally infused with moon magic must fight for the ones she loves, in a society bent on seeing her and the witch who saved her life as the enemy.

That’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. You’ll notice it’s not the whole story, but we have a sense of the character, what the character has to do (or how the character has to change), what the character is up against, and any other key characters or story elements. In this case, the witch (Xan) gets a mention, as does the society that “sacrificed” Luna to the witch when she was a baby.

What is your story about? Who is at the center? What do they have to do, or how do they have to change? What is the main conflict? (Or, if not the main conflict, a big conflict?) What is your theme?

Now, imagine that you’re not just doing this for your book after the fact…

Starting With the Premise of a Story

Let’s say that you’re actually creating the premise before you create the book. This is a smarter, more efficient way of writing. Remember, the first thing I ask of my revision students is: What’s your premise?

You’re going to have to know it eventually. But most writers don’t even start putting their premise together until long after they’ve written their story. Maybe even long after they’ve revised it.

Most writers don’t think about their premise until it’s time to pitch.

Why is this an issue? Well, you don’t want to spend five years on a novel only to realize that you may not have enough story to attract agents, publishers, or readers. (Even if you publish independently, you still have to attract readers. You still need to be able to tell them what your story’s about so that they click that all-important “Buy” button!)

What if you don’t have enough story to truly turn out a compelling, saleable project? This is why I highly recommend writing a premise (or the bones of one) for the project you’re about to start working on first.

Is there enough meat? Does it sound exciting? Or is your premise loose and vague, like, “A coming of age story about a boy who has to learn the true meaning of friendship.” I’d contest that there’s not enough meat on that bone yet. The story needs some additional layers, some specificity, some action, so that it doesn’t sound so much like a lot of other stories I’ve read.

Try It Backwards

Before you sit down to work on your next project, as you work on your current project, or before you revise a draft manuscript, stop what you’re doing immediately—do not pass GO, do not collect $200—and write out a premise.

You’re only doing it for yourself. You’re not pitching. There’s no agent hovering over your shoulder, watching you. Write out what your story is about. Is there enough? Do you have a solid premise of a story? Are you focused? Or do you need to add more layers, action, tension, and/or meaning to your work?

Catching potential issues and course correcting at this highest, most zoomed out level could literally save you years of work, and keep you from following a misguided path all the way to a disappointing conclusion.

If you haven’t tried this yet, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

What do you think of this bass-ackwards approach?

If you’re struggling to pressure test your story and see if there’s enough substance, or if you want to catch pitfalls and opportunities at the outline level, hire me as your developmental editor. Let’s get at it together!

 

Opportunity for Writers

I’m putting together a bit of a thing. Does that sound vague? It’s intentional. A secret thing for writers. (This secret thing for writers is not a sales or marketing thing, don’t worry.) Good Story Company is trying to figure out a way to give writers more to do and higher odds at success.

Right now, I’m looking to connect with writers who consider themselves to be in one of these three groups:

  • I have more ideas than time to write them. You aren’t precious about each idea that comes across your imagination. After all, there are so many! If you’re brimming with story worlds and potential projects but don’t want to do the actual sweaty craftsmanship of writing each one, reach out.
  • I’ll write anything, just give me an outline and a deadline. You aren’t precious about each word you write or each draft of a project. They’re all means to an end. Writing’s a business and you just want to get out there. You can write about anything, and write well. You just struggle with the conceptual part.
  • I got voice on top of voice but don’t know what to do with it. Everyone compliments you on your voice, but you haven’t yet made it truly sing on a project that’s gone anywhere. Maybe, with a little guidance, you can shine.

If you’re curious about this even in the slightest, let’s connect. No pressure. Nobody’s taking anything away from you. Nobody’s asking for anything for free. This is not, I repeat, any kind of sales or marketing. I’m just looking for a small group of likeminded writers because I have a vision—and I realize how woo-woo that sounds. For this super vague call-out, I’m looking for writers who think this sounds woo-woo and weird in a good way, not woo-woo and weird in a negative or suspicious way. (This opportunity, at present, is for novelists only, not picture book writers.)

Remember, I’m  your friend. I have loved the hell out of my writers for over a decade. And with one notable exception, I’ve treated you right. So go out on a limb with me here. If you’re already published or represented, especially, I want to hear from you. Nothing is being signed and no ideas are changing hands, except one that, I hope, will change the right handful of writers’ careers.

Email me: mary@goodstorycompany.com

Craft and Business Topics Poll

I’d love to have your thoughts on the topics you’re most interested in learning on this blog and in the other content I’m making. (If you haven’t yet, check out my YouTube videos about various topics!)

Please see the poll below to give me your feedback:

Middle Grade Critique: Workshop Submission #8

Thank you to our last writer of this workshop series, E.S. This is an early draft of a middle grade fantasy.

Get the creepy factor across with action, rather than telling.

The Workshop Submission

It started when the two faceless men knocked at the back door. If I’d known it was them, I would never have answered.

The potential for some solid tension here. The one thing I’d keep an eye out for, however: “I would never have answered” leaves the present moment. There’s this “If I’d only known” vibe. We go into some hazy, undefined future, from which the narrator is writing. It risks pulling the reader out of the moment to wonder, “When are we relative to the present moment?” My preference is to only use tension that’s available in the present. But since we don’t really know what’s going on in the present yet, I’ll allow it. 😉

Usually I wouldn’t have answered. I hate answering the door. It’s never anyone for me, anyway. All I want is to be left alone to mind my own business and have everyone else mind theirs.

“I wouldn’t have answered” and “I hate answering the door” are redundant. Consider this post about writing description. We get even more into the same point with the discussion of minding one’s business. This is also telling about the character, which I’d much rather avoid.

But I figured it was Mom with her arms full of groceries or something, so I answered the door. Because who else would come around the building and through the gate in the fence and past our sorry excuse for a backyard and knock on the back door? Anyone else would go to the front door. And Mom should have been home already, anyway. It was way past the time she usually gets home from work, and she hadn’t even called. She can be a real pain like that.

This is much more relevant to the present moment. I think that Mom not being home yet (tension) meets the element that it’s the back door, not the front door (tension) should be played up from the beginning, eg, “Nobody ever knocks on the back door. Only Mom comes in that way, and Mom would never knock…” Though I do love “our sorry excuse for a backyard” for voice purposes. This could be cherry-picked and used to start the novel.

So I just unlocked the back door and opened it. I expected Mom to come bustling into the kitchen, saying, “Samantha, young lady, have you finished your homework?” and puffing loose hair out of her face. But it wasn’t Mom. It was two tall, faceless men.

The difference between this opening and what the writer currently has is that this opening is in action. Samantha is expecting Mom (neutral) but it’s not Mom (tension!), it’s two faceless men (tension!!!!!!!). Give it to us in the moment. All the discussion of wanting to be left alone and blah blah blah is just telling. Give us the action instead.

Maybe they actually did have faces under all that bristly hair, but it was impossible to tell. Plus their tall furry hats were jammed down so far on their little heads that the hats would’ve covered any faces they had. Their arms and legs look like giant pipe cleaners. Creepy. And not brand new pipe cleaners either.

The rambling here (the long sentence about the tall furry hats) and the humor (though I love humor) undermine the shock or tension of the moment. Two random strangers have shown up at Samantha’s back door, and you ideally, I think, want the reader to be scared. But by making fun of their hats and faces and head shapes, you let the true fear out of the moment. Is she meant to be scared? This would be better for tension. Or is she just going to hang back and poke fun? This would be better for voice but … for the beginning, tension should be king.

That’s all they wrote! Thank you so much for joining me for this workshop series, and thank you to all the writers who have furnished your openings for potential workshop. I’m planning the next one as we speak.

If you’re struggling with your beginning, bring me on board as a novel editor and trusted writing partner.

Young Adult Critique: Workshop Submission #7

Let’s reenter our workshop series, here with a submission from writer C.C. I hope you all had some amazing holiday times with loved ones. Now it’s time to buckle in and head into 2020 writing. And if you want to, you can shout to the world that you’re Too Kidlit To Quit in 2020. 😉

Some beautiful imagery is always nice in a novel opening, but too much can distract.

The Workshop Submission

No one remembers a beginning. Even though a beginning is one of the most important times in an existence. Not the existence, but a specific one.

I worry that this opening is too vague-sounding to really hook readers. I’m not interested in “an existence” in general, or philosophizing about beginnings. I’m interested in getting an actual beginning on the page. This sounds like a bit of throat clearing, with the writer not knowing where to start, I’m afraid.

It was an ocean. Then it was a river. It was whales and sharks. Nautiloids, ammonites, horseshoe crabs—forever it was assumed.

What is the first “it” referenced? What is the last “it” referenced? Specifics are key when starting a story, and here, you refer to two different “it” subjects, but I’m not clear on either. Consider that confusion is not the same as mystery.

But then something shifted. A shrinking. It got colder, then warm again. The salt drained out, replaced with fresh water from mountains far north and from all the rain. The porous limestone banks hold testament to their existence. A scrapbook, a social media before there was a way to capture images for the future to see.

What is the “it” that gets colder? Is this the same “it” or a different it? I feel like the writer is using “it” to stand in for general “things” or “the atmosphere,” but since “it” is used so often, IT is hard to keep IT straight. Also, what is “their” in the limestone sentence? The banks “hold testament to their [own] existence”? I see the grandiose scale that this writer is trying to evoke, but it’s too slippery, I’m afraid, for me to latch onto. I’d much rather start in specific action, in a specific setting, with a specific character. I do see some very lyrical writing here—the writer clearly has a strong sense of the writing itself! But sometimes, by leaning on this strength, they could have a blind spot elsewhere. In this example, a sense of action and character is lacking.

Sturgeon still swim to the salty water to spawn. The armored fish were once as plentiful as the frills on her gills, but thanks to their delicious eggs and their sportsmanship when it came to dying, they’d been hunted to almost extinction. Humanity will be the cause of the sixth major extinction, no doubt.

I really like “their sportsmanship when it came to dying,” this is a really interesting turn of phrase. But who is “her” (the one with the gills)? Is it the sturgeon’s gills? The gills of a main character not yet named? The pronoun really throws me here.

But she’s digressing, trying to get to the topic of humanity. Humans who have changed her river with their farming and industry. Such diligent creatures like the ants who pontoon on the rivers’ surface to float from one side to the other.

It’s amazing how often writers include “notes to self” in their own prose. Here, this writer says that the narrator (I’m guessing this is the “she” here, but whether that’s the same “she” as the one with gills is still unclear) is “digressing,” but I think the writer is aware on some subconscious level that they’re the ones digressing. Always listen to your gut! The inclusion of ants here only muddies things for me. I’m waiting for the focal point, and I’m not seeing one yet, I’m afraid.

It’s not just the topic of humans though that she’s trying to get to. Her mind is like the river. It is always flowing in one direction, yes, but there are cypress knees to get around. Topics come up like bubbling underground springs.

Some truly lovely writing, don’t get me wrong. But, like the river, this opening meanders. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to latch onto, as the reader. My hunch is that this writer hasn’t found their true opening page yet, and that’s totally okay. This provides some nice imagery, and some potential places to start.

That’s all they wrote! Tune in next week for more workshop.

Struggling with your beginning? Hire me as your novel editor for in-depth developmental advice. You can also sign up for my Crafting Irresistible First Pages webinar with Jane Friedman on January 15th!

Writing Fantasy: The Kiss of Life by Gail Carson Levine

I’m very excited to present this article on writing fantasy, exclusively for Kidlit by Gail Carson Levine.

writing fantasy, gail carson levine, fantasy writing
The key to writing fantasy is relatable detail.

The Magic of Fantasy Writing

The great thing about reading fantasy (and writing fantasy) is that we get to have experiences not available to us in ordinary life. The great thing about writing fantasy is that we’re able to take a deep dive into what those experiences might be like.

As a reader, I feel disappointed when the dive is a belly flop. For example, an invisible force field hitting an invisible, immovable object frustrates me, especially if the hero I’m rooting for is trapped behind the object. How can she engage with it if she doesn’t know what it is? Then, if she does engage and it gives way but I don’t know how, I’m doubly annoyed. I can’t rejoice with her if I don’t understand her triumph.

Here’s a confession: I don’t believe in magic or elves or fairies.

Seven Suggestions for Writing Fantasy

So I know that I face a high bar to persuade at least some readers to buy what I’m laying out. How do we do it? Here are seven suggestions for writing fantasy:

  • Start the fantasy early, before the reader has time to imagine a realistic world. Take Ogre Enchanted, my latest novel, a prequel to Ella Enchanted. My main character, Evie, is a dedicated healer, but her methods wouldn’t survive scrutiny by the American Medical Association. I introduce the magic in the first sentence of the book, when Evie’s friend Wormy forgets to mash her inglebot fungus—there’s no such thing as inglebot. Grimwood, a fever remedy, shows up a page later, and, soon after, pig bladder, which certainly exists, but no one uses it to heal sprains!On page 5, the adolescent giant Oobeeg is mentioned, though he’s too large to fit through Evie’s mother’s front door–a mite of sensory information. Oobeeg is there because his mother’s leg was gashed by an ogre and a healer is needed. Now we have giants and ogres. On page 9, Evie herself is turned into an ogre by the fairy Lucinda of Ella Enchanted fame. Giants, fairies, ogres, and weird medicine. The world taking shape and we’re just on page 9.
  • Writing fantasy elements that develop characters. With Evie’s transformation, I give the reader an understanding of how it might feel to be an ogre. Coarse hair grows on Evie’s hands. Her fingernails are long and filthy. She’s bigger than she was before, so seams have split; her apron is squeezing her stomach; the soles of her shoes are flapping. Significantly, she’s ravenous, even though she had breakfast only a little while earlier. Even more significantly, she calls Wormy’s earlobes “the sweetest part.” Not much later, I let the reader know how easily she gets angry, which is unlike her human self. Rather than an invisible force field, Evie’s ogre side becomes one of her antagonists. The way she deals with it, including what she eats and doesn’t eat, are important in defining her.
  • Set things up beforehand to prepare the reader. Much later in Ogre Enchanted I need Evie to get the better of a dragon, and dragons in this world are vastly bigger than ogres, plus they have flames and flight. It took me a while to figure out how to do this when writing fantasy, but when I did, I introduced on page 82 a historical enmity between dragons and ogres, and I showed the over-the-top reaction of Evie and the ogre band she’s with to the sight of just a dragon’s tooth. When she faces an entire dragon forty pages later, the reader is ready to believe she can survive.
  • Include detail, especially sensory detail. Sensation puts the reader there. Once we’ve made our world solid with sight, sound, touch, and smell, we can’t write an invisible force field, because it won’t fit.Smell isn’t our species’ strongest sense, but it’s uniquely tied to our emotions. In her ogre form, Evie sweats copiously–and stinks. Baths last only briefly. Her ogre side likes the smell, but her human side wants to crawl out of her hairy skin.
  • Make the humans and the creatures relatable. Evie, who craves relief from her isolation from humans, is painfully aware of her looks and her odor. And she can barely tolerate the terror she strikes in people. Anyone who’s ever felt unwanted, even for a moment, suffers with her.Not that appearance is the only way to make readers identify with fantasy writing. They feel for Ella in Ella Enchanted because of her curse of obedience–we’ve all many times had to do what we don’t want to. In my Princess Tale, For Biddle’s Sake, the very flawed fairy Bombina (who loves to turn people into toads) is sympathetic because of her desperate love for a girl named Parsley.
  • Writing fantasy that embraces the reader with touches of wonder. In The Two Princesses of Bamarre, sorcerers are born when lightning strikes marble, which ignites a flame that contains the new sorcerer, who rockets into the sky. Just dreaming up this kind of thing makes me happy, a feeling I hope readers will share.
  • Invent your own creatures. Don’t go with stereotypes. Dragons don’t have to be big, and elves don’t have to be small, as Tolkien proved. At a conference, I once mentored a young writer who had a charming voice. My only criticism about his fantasy writing was that he leaned on stereotypes. When describing a certain wizard, he used direct address to say to the reader, “You know how wizards are.” I don’t. I have my own ideas, but this was his story, and I wanted to meet his wizard.

    Writing Fantasy Isn’t Easy, But It’s Worth It

Just saying, all of this isn’t easy. Maybe none of it is. A young writer I know has an ongoing dispute with her brother about which is harder, writing or basketball. Writers know, and it isn’t even close. But it’s a joy to invent worlds with creatures who live under an unknown sun and to invite readers to share the fun.

Find Gail Online:

If you’re struggling with writing fantasy that pulls readers in and doesn’t let them go, hire me as your developmental editor.

Good Story Company Is Hiring!

I have some big plans for 2020, and to that end, I’m hiring!

good story company, storytelling, writers

Marketing Internship

I’m looking to train a marketing intern for this paid internship position. Book marketing is a big issue on every writer’s mind. I have conversation after conversation with writers in my editorial business, on the traditional and indie tracks, all about how to market themselves and their work.

Marketing isn’t just social media or printing bookmarks. And contrary to popular belief, marketing isn’t guaranteed with a book deal, not even for traditionally published writers. And how do writers market themselves before they’re published? Ack!

I’m looking for the right candidate to help me build a marketing extension of the Good Story Company. This will start as a paid internship, and will grow to a half-time or even full time position over time. There will be a heavy teaching and training component, but the right person will come to the table with experience and ideas of their own.

Requirements:

  • Age 18 and over
  • Legally able to work in the United States (unfortunately, for legal reasons, I’m not able to hire from outside of the US)
  • Have 8-10 hours available per week to devote to the internship
  • Be familiar with Slack and the G-Suite of tools
  • Have at least one year of existing experience in marketing—I’m looking to train up the right candidate, but I do want them to bring something to the table (not necessarily in book marketing)

In order to apply for this position, which will start in late January 2020, please submit the following:

  • Your latest and greatest resume
  • A cover letter that details your interest in this position
  • A sample marketing plan for a writer, traditionally published book, or independently published book—if you don’t know how to make one, do a little research online and give it your best shot!

Please send this combination (attachments are okay) to:

mary@kidlit.com

with the subject line “Marketing Internship” by January 10th, 2020, noon Central time. Late submissions will be deleted unread.

Diverse applicants are encouraged, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements! Starting pay for this internship will be $12/hr. This is a remote, web-based internship. I can’t wait to hear from you!

About That Marketing Thing…

I’m also planning a marketing class for writers in early 2020. If you’re interesting in getting on the waiting list or receiving more information, please sign up for the email list for this marketing class here.