Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fun and Great Info Mark May 9th Meeting!

Super turn-out for our May 9th meeting, especially considering that it was Mother's Day weekend!

Janice Thompson presided over the meeting--which meant we had cookies after lunch. Those of you who couldn't make it missed out. She also hosted a give-away, 2015 calendars and her 3-Minute Devotions for Families.

Kathrese McKee masterfully held our attention with her speech, "Preparing for Disaster, Saving Your Manuscript from Oblivion," and fielded questions from those of us who are technophobes.

Kathrese knows her stuff, and given her background in All Things Computer, she should. She made us think about what we'd lose if something happened to our computers and we hadn't taken proper protective measures. Then she told us just what those measures should be.

If you missed it, she has generously provided the link to her notes, so you can read the outline to the entire speech "here."

My favorite Kathrese quote had nothing to do with computers: "We are never done learning English." How true is that?!


Congrats to our WOTS members!

Selah Award Finalists: Donn Taylor, for Lightning on a Quiet Nightand former member, Mary Hamilton, for Speak No Evil

Genesis Semi-finalists: Stacey Zink

Golden Quill (Desert Rose RWA) Finalist: Carla Rossi

Coming Thursday, June 4

Don't forget our "Write-Out" Day! We're having a field trip to the National Museum of Funeral History, 415 Barren Springs Dr., Houston. We'll meet at 10:00 and have lunch together after the tour. Entry fee is $10.00--unless we can swing 25 attendees, then we can qualify for the group rate of $8.00. Bring pen and paper. You never know what'll inspire you!

2015 Short Story Contest

You can learn more about it "here." Contest is open for entries on June 1! Also, don't forget about last year's anthology, featuring many stellar authors including Annette O'Hare, Carla Hoch, Linda Kozar, and Crystal Barnes.

Meeting on June 20th

Regular time and place. Don't miss it!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Michelle Griep: Deep POV Primer

Here’s the thing about writing: it’s subjective. Over time, trends change. What was considered good writing thirty years ago is no longer in vogue today.

Example? Point of view (POV) is defined as the perspective from which your story is written. It used to be that omniscient POV was the bomb diggity. The author god looked down upon his mighty story world and described his character’s thoughts from afar. He’d even mix it up a bit, telling you what Suzie thought, then what Bobby thought, and even what Great Aunt Mildred thought about Suzie and Bobby. This is known as head hopping. Try that today and you’ll get whapped upside the head with a big rejection stick.

So then the trend was third-person subjective. Don’t let the multi-syllabic words throw you. All it means is that you show your story through the eyes of one character at a time. This gives insight into what that character thinks or feels while only having superficial knowledge of other characters.

Third person-subjective is still in use, but now all the really cool kids are taking that a step further and writing in deep POV. In essence, this takes the readers into the heart of a character, allowing the story to be fully seen and felt through that character’s experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Nice idea, but how exactly does one pull it off? Never fear! Have I got a handy dandy list for you.

5 Tips To Write in Deep POV

1. Ditch the tags.

He said, she thought, wondered, knew, saw, yada-yada. These are all tags, and for the most part, you don’t need them. This is not a hard and fast rule, however, especially if you’ve got a dialogue with several characters going on all at once. Then you just might need to keep the “said.” But better you show the actual thought instead of writing it out in detail.

Regular POV example:

He heard a car alarm blaring outside. He wondered why the idiot car owner didn’t shut it off.
Deep POV example:

A car alarm blared outside. Seriously? What kind of idiot annoyed the world with their stupid car alarm?

2. Ditch the emotion naming too.

Don’t get me wrong. You need to connect on a gut level with your reader, but you don’t need to bludgeon them with blatant emotional telling. Make the reader feel the emotions along with the character.

Regular POV example:

She heard footsteps close behind, ramping up her terror.

Deep POV example:

Footsteps pounded. Close. Too close. Susan’s heart skipped a beat. 

3. Stay True to Character.

Use words that the character would use, and remember the opposite is true as well. Don’t use words your character wouldn’t. Stay true. Take into consideration the era, feel, and genre of your story. Here’s a historical fiction example . . .

Regular POV example:

Louisa felt terrible after telling Winston her opinion. She wondered what he would think.

Deep POV example:

La! Such a dire muddle she’d made of things. Louisa stared at the floor, better that than sink beneath Winston’s scowl.

4. Formatting.

Italics used to be used to distinguish thoughts. You don’t need to do this in deep POV. There’s no confusing the reader since you’re only writing a scene from one character’s vantage point anyway.

Regular POV example:

Alice lifted the loaded gun, until the barrel rested flat against her forehead. Surely Alice has more brains than that, he thought, or maybe she didn’t?

Deep POV example:

Alice lifted the loaded gun, until the barrel rested flat against her forehead. What was wrong with the woman? Clearly if a bullet flew, there weren’t any brains in there to begin with.

5. Weave in internal monologue with action.

Sometimes writing can read like a grocery list. She did that. He did this. Then we all went home. Boring! Add in depth of emotion, sprinkled throughout the action.

POV example:

She sprinted down the alley, listening hard to hear if she was being followed. Chancing a glance over her shoulder, she stumbled but kept going. When the alley opened into a street, she finally slowed down. No one had followed her.

Deep POV example:
She sprinted down the alley. Oh, God. What a horrible place to die. Chancing a glance over her shoulder, she stumbled. Sweet mercy! Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Pumping her legs, she picked up her pace. No. She’d have none of death. Not here. Not now. When the alley opened into a street, she finally slowed down. Alone, but not defeated. Victory never tasted so sweet.

There you have it. The easiest way to remember how to write in deep POV is simply to imagine your scenes through the eyes and body of your character. Don’t just write him. Be him. Give some of these tips a whirl in your current WIP and pretty soon you’ll automatically be writing in deep POV.

But don’t get too used to it. You never know what new writerly trend will be coming down the pike next.

About the Author . . .

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.

She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.

Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit, and don’t forget the usual haunts of PinterestFacebook or Twitter.

About the Book: Writer Off the Leash . . .

Are you a writer at heart? How can you tell? And if you are, how do you go about composing and selling the next Great American Novel?

WRITER OFF THE LEASH answers these questions and more--all in an easy to understand, tongue-in-cheek style. This is more than a how-to book. It's a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn't know how to take their writing to the next level. Award-winning author MICHELLE GRIEP blows the lid off stodgy old-school rulebooks and makes it clear that writing can--and should--be fun.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 9th Meeting Features Kathrese McKee!

The entire title of Kathrese's speech is: Preparing for Disaster: Saving Your Manuscript from Oblivion (Disaster Prevention and Recovery). It's a mouthful, but it grabs your attention, doesn't it?

Award-winning author, Kathrese McKee writes epic adventures for young adults and anyone else who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life's difficult questions.  She is committed to exciting stories, appropriate content, and quality craftsmanship.

Once upon a time,  Kathrese worked as a systems engineer for EDS and various oil and gas companies. After that, she taught Reading and ESL at the middle school level. These days, she edits fiction, home schools her children, and turns a blind eye to the feral dust bunnies lurking beneath her desk.

Kathrese is a member of the Houston Writers Guild and Treasurer for Writers on the Storm, a chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) meeting in The Woodlands, Texas. She is also a Contributing Member and website administrator for The Christian PEN.

Her newest release, Mardan's Mark is the first book in the Mardan's Mark series.

It is the winner of the 2014 Novel Rocket Launch Pad Contest, MG/YA Category, and a finalist in the 2014 Phoenix Rattler writing contest, Christian Writers of the West (CWOW) - Arizona's ACFW affiliate.

The sequel, Mardan's Anointed, is in process along with a related novella.

So, y'all come join us May 9th for lunch, fellowship, and a lesson on avoiding disaster!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

We Interrupt This Program . . .

Mr. Weather threatened to mess with our plans last week. Forecast called for rough storms and flooded roads. Janice wisely decided to cancel the meeting in advance. Granted, the threat turned out to be an idle one, but if she'd waited until Saturday, and the threat had been real, she would've had a hard time catching those of us who have a long drive to inform us about the cancellation. So, if you're ever in doubt about our meeting, or need information about it, you can check here or on our Facebook page and catch all the latest news. 

This time, Janice wanted to be certain she caught us all with the weather alert, so she even sent an email. Then, bless her amazingly generous heart, she sent another to all 157 members containing the .pdf of her book,Writing and Selling the Great American Novel. If you didn't get it, check your spam or check in with us and update your information and email address. (Same deal if you didn't get the cancellation notice.)

This month, our featured classic author is Laura Ingalls Wilder, without whom we would've never met Melissa Gilbert--but that's another story. 

The Little House series would be classified as YA today, but I didn't read it until I was deep into my twenties, and I loved the entire series. I must've been twenty-four when I realized what an anachronism I am. Just let me have my washing machine and indoor plumbing, and send me back to the ol' soddy. Among other little known and totally irrelevant facts about Laura: she died the day before I was born, the same day my paternal grandfather died, February 10, 1957.

Any other little known facts about the author, you'll have to discover on your own. Warning: you will be tested at the next meeting.

Which reminds me--and let me see if I can get this big enough and bold enough so it won't be missed: 


Does that do it?

In case you're wondering who our speaker is--and you haven't looked at the side bar--it's our own Kathrese McKee. 

More about Kathrese next week, so stay tuned!

Till next time, God bless all our Storm Writers!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dancing with the Words

NOTICE: the April 18 meeting has been canceled due to inclement weather. 


I love Dancing with the Stars. It's one of my guilty pleasures. The couples elegantly dip and sway, spin and turn, and glide across the floor--or gyrate across the floor, doing things I couldn't do even when I was young enough to do them. It makes me wistful with the longing to dance like they do.
But it isn't just the beautiful, effortless dancing that draws me in. It's the behind-the-scenes clips of the work involved in making the dance beautiful and effortless.
In some room somewhere, with windows along one wall, and a barre mounted to a mirror along the other, these men and women sweat, fall, curse, cry, get up, and start all over again. They're dressed in their scrubbiest clothes, sometimes in their dance shoes, sometimes in street shoes. The women don't have makeup on and their hair is usually pulled carelessly out of the way.
And they work. Do the same steps over and over until they get them right. String the steps together into the components of the choreography, stream those components into the dance itself, and practice. And practice, and practice.
Often, sixty hours a week go in to making one three-minute performance look easy, like anyone can jump from the sofa and dip and sway and gyrate, just like they do on TV.
But of course, they can't.
Any form of art takes work and practice, which is why it always strikes me as funny when someone says they're going to sit down and write a book and "become a famous author!"
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes. In some room somewhere, with or without windows, with or without a mirror, authors study and write and edit and rewrite. All so the book the reader holds in his hands can seem like an effortless flow of words into a gripping story--like anyone can jump up from the sofa and write a story just like it.
The more I've learned about what goes in to "good" writing, the harder it has become. Whenever I feel I've mastered some aspect, I'm challenged with another. What goes in to writing a novel is no easier than what goes in to that Monday night performance. They both take work.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Amazing Janice Thompson, Author Extraordinaire!

In case you missed the email, let me fill you in: Janice is our guest speaker for the 18th! Squeal!

She is going to teach even us pantsers how to plot a novel, so bring pen and paper, because if you're like me, you'll want to take notes.

For those of you not familiar with our 2015 WOTS President, I stole this from her Amazon page to help you get acquainted:

Inspirational author Janice Thompson also writes under the name Janice Hanna. She got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage. Janice has published over 100 books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children's books and more. In addition, she enjoys editing, ghost-writing, public speaking, and mentoring young writers. She was thrilled to be named the 2010 Barbour/Heartsong Author of the Year, with three books on the top ten list for that house. Janice is active in her local writing group, where she regularly teaches on the craft of writing. Her online course, "Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer" ( has been helpful to many who want to earn a living with their writing. Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds. She does her best to keep the Lord at the center of it all. You can find out more about Janice at or Her Facebook page can be located here:

Janice says she'll be bringing plenty of copies of her new release, Every Bride Needs a Groom, so be ready. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it!

Bring a friend, y'all! This promises to be good!

Kathleen Y'Barbo on Characterization

Pinkerton Agents, Inventions, and the Charming Villain:
Three Essential Ingredients of a Good Bad Guy

Will Tucker is a handsome fellow with enough charm and drop-dead good looks to gain more than one wealthy fiancĂ©. And he does. Not exactly hero material, is he? That’s because Will Tucker, the subject of my new Southern-with-a-dash-of-Steampunk historical series The Secret Lives of Will Tucker is not the hero. He’s the villain.

Writing a series with a villain at its center is a departure for me. Thus, taking on the telling of the story of Will Tucker, the charming and smooth-talking chameleon with the dubious intentions was new territory. In order to write heroines who would be fooled by this fellow and yet not appear to be less than worthy of their stories, I had to find that combination of good intentions and strong will. I also had to create a villain who these women would be willing to marry. Thus, the bad guy had to be good, at least in part. What a conundrum.

In the process of creating Will Tucker, I came up with a general list of requirements for any good (and by that I mean bad) villain. For the sake of clarity, I refer to the villain as a male, but rest assured that these tips can just as easily apply to women.

  • A villain must have a good reason for his actions. This can be past history, current circumstances, or something altogether different. However, the reason must make sense to him. For example, if he feels compelled to kick old ladies, he’d best have an elderly female in his past that was a source of pain or fear.
  • A villain must have at least one redeeming quality. He may murder people, but he adores his mother. Or maybe he treats his pets with loving care or donates half of his paycheck each week to charity. Whatever it is, let there be something about this guy that is likeable.
  • A villain must not be one-dimensional. Avoid clichĂ© bad guys who have nothing else in life except the evil they commit. Make them members of a community or perhaps give them hobbies or family. Ground a bad guy in a real world scenario that makes him seem more relatable.

Using these three elements, I created a handsome and charming swindler whose penchant for entering into engagements with society women is eclipsed only by the ease with which he bestows his attention upon them. Will Tucker’s education and background gives him the skills to pass himself as a member of their social strata while those same elements provide his excuse for scheming against them. Because he has a family, a history, and a reason for his actions, Will Tucker holds his own against the Southern belles and Pinkertons who populate his world.

So what becomes of a villain who is so likeable that women fall for him and men don’t mind calling themselves his friend? As I wrote the tales of Flora Brimm, and Millie Cope , and even as I began Sadie Callum’s story, I wasn’t sure how I could pull off an ending worthy of such a fellow. In the end, Will himself determined his fate. Without giving anything away, I will say that the villain can sometimes switch hats and play the hero, too.


Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than fifty novels with almost two million copies in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and Book of the Year by Romantic Times magazine.

Kathleen is a paralegal, a proud military wife, and an expatriate Texan cheering on her beloved Texas Aggies from north of the Red River. Connect with her through social media at

Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Life of Will Tucker historical romantic suspense novel, is in stores now:

Watch for Firefly Summer, the first in the contemporary Pies, Books & Jesus Book Club series coming this summer from Redbud Press!