Link Of The Week- Excellent Writing Teacher

July 26, 2016




I’ve had the chance to take a few of her classes, an all day workshop, read through two of her online lecture packets, and taken a VERY intensive Immersion class that lasted 4-5 days… I’m going back for more. Yes. She’s that good.

Margie teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners. She has presented over ninety full day master classes for writers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and on cruises in the Caribbean.

Writers credit her innovative deep editing approaches for their writing success: publication, awards, and bestseller lists.

Musetracks Recommends… Two Books to Help Increase Writing Productivity

August 12, 2013

On my Kindle: WRITE EVERY DAY: How to Write Faster, and Write More and 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron

Musetracks recommends… how-to books for the keepers shelf!

You probably don’t know this but I am a book-on-writing addict. I have at least a hundred of them, read all of them and keep reading more. Last week, I was glad to stumble on two very good short Kindle books that gave me great tips to help me write faster.

The first one 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron is a pretty short book and what I believe a follow-up on a blog post that you can also read here.

Ms. Aaron tells us that you need three things to really boost your productivity, one being excitement about everything you write. It sounds obvious and while I thought I was excited about all my scenes, it turns out that I didn’t always know why I cared about writing some parts of the story. I decided to give her advice a try and wrote a one line “FF (Fun Factor – my words)” at the top of each of my scene (like: FF: it shows the hero is really really super sexy”) to remind myself of what I truly enjoyed in that scene.

It works. As I first read that before starting my edits, I get really exited about the scene and can’t wait to show my reader how fun this part is. I stall a lot less with dread and fear in front of my page.

Speaking of fear, the second book, which goes much more in depth about why we sometimes avoid writing, is by multi-published author Cathy Yardley, and titled WRITE EVERY DAY: How to Write Faster, and Write More.

Ms. Yardley knows what it’s like to be busy with a kid, a day job and trying to write on top of it all. She tackles all our “problems” in layers. Solve the issue of time first, then go to the next issue of energy. Then figure out your fears before tackling your process. I truly got a lot out of this and experienced little light bulb moments from reading various passages such as….

“… if you have to wait until you’re making enough money or getting enough recognition to justify the time to write… you’re never going to have the time to write.”

I discovered why some of my fears were actually trying to protect me, such as how the fear of my family’s criticism is actually a protecting me from having the writing taken away from me. I was glad to have discovered this book through the Amazon Kindle recommendations, especially to see that Ms Yardley has also a great blog of smart writing advice called Rock Your Writing which you can find here is you are interested. I promptly added it to my blog feed reader.

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Disclaimer: I do not know those two authors personally, found both books via Amazon Kindle Recommendations and purchased the books myself.


Getting schooled

June 5, 2013

Song of the Day: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

rf getty pirate lass

Me, on any given day.

This may come to a surprise to you, but I’m not a real Caribbean pirate. Not in the sense that I have actually learned to sail 16th century wooden ship, or have sacked poor, unsuspecting, seaside port towns. Yet. But I have sailed on a wooden ship and I have done extensive research on pirates.

Fact matters. So they say. As authors, we really need to get our facts straight, even for the minutest details. No skimping. Some readers zero in on when you do. Even if you don’t realize it.

Case in point, I recently received an email calling me out on the misuse of shipboard terms. Don’t get me wrong, the gentleman meant no harm and no criticism. He merely wanted me to know in case I was not aware—which I truly appreciated.

And since I will be continuing my series with a few more books, I’d be remiss not taking his suggestion seriously. And stupid. For more than one reason.

Authors, no matter where they are in their writing careers, should never stop learning. Whether it’s craft, industry, new genres, research, publishing, there’s lots of fluid information out there. No one person can claim to know it all. Not even a pirate diva.

My misuse, or lack of proper vocabulary, prompted this reader to reach out to me. It bothered him enough to go to the trouble. That’s a point of contact. Somewhere, he received my book. He read my book. He visited my website. I am now an author he knows.

He’s likely not the only one to notice my nomenclature. On the flip side, because of the cordial way he contacted me, it allowed me to respond and hopefully connect with the reader in a positive way.

getty rf ship rigging

Quick! What kind of knot is this?

Long before I even played with the notion of writing, I sent an email to an author I adored, asking about her pen name and the meaning behind it. I was pregnant with my  first child and loved the name Kinley. I wanted to know more about the name. Imagine how blown away I was when she cheerfully responded. I’d already enjoyed her books, but by not simply overlooking or ignoring my email,  and taking a moment to indulge me, she gained a fan for life. You guys know her better as Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Another reason I gladly accepted his suggestion is that this man, without saying it, is far more knowledgeable with shipboard terminology than myself. No, he is not a pirate. But his signature indicated he served in the Navy…as a captain. Now, I’m not saying I gained a fan for life. But it is my hope that the man regarded my response favorably.

Authors should strive to get the facts right, no doubt. However, sometimes creative license comes into play. In my case, though the captain enlightened me with a shipboard term I was not previously keen on, another I was completely in the know. Readers don’t always know the meanings behind specialized, time specific, genre distinct, or characteristically slang vocabulary. Sometimes, writers need to interchange words and phrases with more common terms. For example, I use ropes and ratlines to describe ship rigging because my target audience might not know what clew lines or halyards are, or where to find them. I don’t want to slow the readers pace by causing them to pause. I want them to engaged.

We can research until our eyes pop out of our skulls, but there will always be something we have not learned or have overlooked.

How about you? Has someone ever caught you? Have you been humbly corrected? Or perhaps you were in the right? Maybe you were the one who caught a misstep. Let me hear from you.

Link of the Week

December 13, 2011

Writer Unboxed is an acclaimed award-winning blog dedicated to the craft, marketing, and business  of fiction writing. This site has great information on marketing,the writer’s’ life, interviews, industry, and lots of resources. Many star-studded contributors can be found here.

This is a blog site for all writers.

How To Write Good

December 7, 2011

Song of the Day: Hey Man, Nice Shot by Filter

How to Write Good

By Frank L. Visco

My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:

  1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  4. Employ the vernacular.
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  8. Contractions aren’t necessary.
  9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  10. One should never generalize.
  11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  12. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  13. Don’t be redundant, don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  14. Profanity sucks.
  15. Be more or less specific.
  16. Understatement is always best.
  17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  20. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  21. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  22. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  23. Who needs rhetorical questions?


Okay, show of hands. Who read through this list and realized they were guilty of one, two, or all of these infractions? Come on, I know I’m not the only one. Although this is a tongue in cheek (cliché!) list, there is a lesson here. (Parenthetical remark! One-word sentence! Egads, does it ever end? Oops, profanity & a rhetorical question.) Rules are meant to be broken. Well, maybe not always. Spending 24 hours in the city jail may have you rethinking that philosophy. However, when used appropriately a writer can break, bend, stretch, and reshape these rules and the many other “unwritten” rules and still write a powerful, effective, emotional piece of fiction. The key is to know the rules and understand why they are not to be tampered with. (Preposition.) Once you master them, then you will know how to effectually shatter them for your own gains.

I want to thank a special friend, William Simon for sending this to me. Gracias!

So, which of these crimes are you guilty of committing? Let me hear from you.

Kung Fu Scene Play

March 16, 2011

Song of the Day: Hip to My Heart by The Band Perry

So there you are, staring at a computer screen, and are having trouble. You’re just not feeling it. It could be with an opening or any scene in your manuscript. The words aren’t coming to life, the scene is flat, or you simply can’t move forward.

What you need is a swift kick in the pants. Okay, may not. Maybe you need to try something different. I picked up this effective exercise from a workshop I attended featuring Alicia Rasley.

Get into character. Become one with their surroundings.

No, you don’t have to hire a kung fu sensei or take acting lessons. But if you can nab Ryan Reynolds as an acting coach, I say go for it! Especially when learning love scenes.

All you really have to do to become the character and anchor yourself to a scene is jot down answers to a few questions.

First, the basics. Keep in mind this exercise is done from the point of view character. Where are you? What do you see immediately around you? What time of day or night is it?

Become aware of your senses. What sound do you hear at this very moment? What do you smell? What do you taste on your tongue? What is the temperature, by which, are you hot, cold, or clammy?

Go a little deeper. Are you standing? Sitting? What do you feel in your hands? What do you feel on your cheeks? Are you barefoot or wearing shoes, and what do you feel under your feet?

Go deeper still. Are you alone? If not, what is your immediate feeling towards the person(s) you are with? What is your mood? What do you feel in your heart? What are you afraid will/will not happen? What do you hope will/will not happen?

These answers will help place you squarely in the scene – any scene. With the emotional and physical elements of your character fresh in your mind, you should be able to bring the words to life.

You’ll make your scene vivid with your kung fu roundhouse kicks. Of course, having Ryan Reynolds whispering encouragement in your ear might help, too.

What do you think? Do you have an exercise you’d like to share that helps you make your scenes more tangible? Let me hear from you.

Motif Madness

February 16, 2011

Song of the Day: Fine Again by Seether

I had the pleasure recently to attend a workshop hosted by my ‘home’ Romance Writer’s of America© chapter Northwest Houston RWA featuring author and editor Alicia Rasley. Among the incredible advice she gave on strengthening a manuscript, she spoke of something I hadn’t been familiarized with – motifs.

Now, I had heard of themes and my head still aches over symbolism due in part to my sophomore year in high school and mining the imagery in The Great Gatsby. But I admit, my first thought was armchair doilies, toile wallpaper, and the awful geometric, Day-Glo T-shirt patterns of the 80’s. I shutter.

Turns out, I’m not too far off in my thinking.

Motifs are recurring elements that help develop the theme in fiction. This could be an image, person, concept, keyword, or pattern which reappears throughout the story. The motif unifies events, characters, and plot points at varying times, the connection linking something of symbolic relevance to different scenes and occasions.  And it happens no less than three times. For the savvy reader, it can provide an ‘ah-ha’ moment, recognizing the motif coincides with a change either in the character or the plot.

Examples of motifs can be just about anything your crazy little mind can think up. Crime, celebrations, tragedies, births, weather, the elements (earth, wind, fire, water), science, music, phrases, battles,  animals, contrasts, tears, illness, clothing, color, family, prophecies, secrets, failures, success, flowers, and the list goes on.

Often the motif is very subtle. Ever notice how the grand staircase in the movie Titanic recurs at specific points of the unfolding story?  Jack greets Rose at the bottom of the staircase before their dinner in first class. Cal shoots his pistol at both Jack and Rose as they escape together down the steps. And the kicker, Rose joins Jack on the staircase after passing away, after living the full life he inspired her to live. Good grief, I need a hankie.

Other times, motifs are more noticeable, such as in It’s a Wonderful Life.  Celebrations mark George Bailey’s despondent, bitter reflection on how his dreams of seeing the world had always been derailed by the needs of others. This bolsters the theme that George’s small town life had significant and positive impact on other people’s lives. Where’s my hankie, darn it?

Need another example? Let’s use Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. One of the motifs in the play is light, or rather the avoidance of light. Blanche evaded direct light. She covered an exposed light bulb with a paper lantern in the apartment, avoided being seen in the daytime, and stuck to the shadows whenever possible, that is, until her suitor Mitch forced her to stand under a bright lamp post. One can argue that light represented Blanche’s youth and innocence and her intolerance of light meant she was losing her grasp on reality. The dim light represented her illicit past and fading beauty and her downward spiral from sanity.

After giving this motif thing some thought, I realized I had motifs woven into my stories.  The phase of the moon plays a big role in my 2009 Golden Heart finalist manuscript Upon A Moonlit Sea, recurring at moments when there are shifts in character growth. In A Kiss in the Wind, my second novel, sunlight is a frequent device popping up in subtle yet integral scenes that seem to be representative of new beginnings. I’m certain once I begin edits, I will come across a motif or two in my current WIP.

I bet if you analyze your stories, you’ll discover you, too, have repetitious imagery, components and/or narratives. See if you can’t find a motif in your masterpiece.