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TODAY ONLY: Get 6 Top Writing Books for 99 Cents Each

I’m SO excited to share that I’ve teamed up with 5 other amazing authors to give you a killer deal on some of the best writing books out there–available today only for 99 cents each!!

Click on the covers below to access the deals: 

 

 

 

 

 

Each book is 99 cents… but only for today!! 

Know any writers? Share these great deals with them using the buttons below: 

The Pro Writer Mindset: What It Really Takes to Be A Bestselling Author

The Pro Writer MindsetThis is a book I’ve wanted to write for a while now, because after spending the last decade and a half of my life deep in the writing world, I’ve found success mindset to be the biggest thing missing. And the truth is, a lot of writers have bad habits, negative thoughts, limiting beliefs and all kinds of BS nonsense holding them back from being the writer and author they dream of being.

Are you one of those writers?

If you are, you have a choice (and even if you’re not, you still have a choice): do you want to create the writing life you dream of having, where everything you desire is possible? Or do you want to live in a reactive writing world created by the limiting beliefs and negative mindsets of those who came before you?

I believe we can write our own rules and that destiny isn’t a pre-destined place… it’s a place you create along the way as you discover and decide what it is you really want. 

There’s nothing that you must do in order to have the writing career you dream of, but there’s always something for you to do. What that means is, you get to create the writing life you want and you can do it on your terms BUT you can’t just want something and sit on your ass. You have to actually take action every single day.

That’s what The Pro Writer Mindset is all about. It’s about going inside, clearing out the clutter, deciding what you want, getting aligned with it and then watching it show up in your real life.

This interactive eBook will help you get clear on what you want, clear out the internal clutter, get your mind in the right place and get you taking action on your writing dream, whatever it may be. And I even did a full breakdown of the mindset, practical and energetic actions I used to make my book (Align Your Writing Habits to Success) a Best Seller on Amazon (in multiple categories!!).

>> Get your copy here 

 

AuthorpreneurTV, Episode 9: The REAL Key to Success

Success as an author is all about consistency and follow-through. Without both of those things, it will be impossible to create momentum that’s sustainable. But even when you’re starting to see some success, or even just some progress on your writing project, there’s a common error authors (and writers) often make.

That error could cost you the success you’ve worked so damn hard to achieve.

I made an episode of AuthorpreneurTV to tell you all about it…

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What successes have you had lately? And what will you do to keep going? 

To watch all the episodes of my show, AuthorpreneurTV, be sure to check out my YouTube channel here.

I’m On Periscope! Check Out My Replays…

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Periscope, the live-streaming video app from the people behind Twitter. If you haven’t, you can learn more by going to the app store on your smartphone and downloading the Periscope app. Once you do that, you can watch live broadcasts, interact with the broadcaster, ask questions/chat, and give “hearts” (Periscope’s version of “likes”).

I’ve been doing tons of Scopes lately, covering all different writing-related topics, like how to create playlists for your stories, whether or not story structure is formulaic, the 6-week story planning process and more.

You can find me on Periscope at @JenniferBlanchard. 

And since not everyone is available when I do the Scopes live, I created a landing page where you can go to view all of the replays. I will be posting all of the video recordings on there when I’m finished with the live broadcasts.

>> Check out my Periscope video replays

What’s your handle on Periscope? Let me know in the comments so I can follow you!

The Author Intensive: Planning and Development

Over the 18 years that it took me to finally publish my first novel, I’ve developed a lot of processes and strategies for getting things done, and for coping with the BS that pops up and tries to get in your way. And I wanted to share these processes, to help other writers who are struggling with writing their novels.

So I’ve created the Author Intensive: Planning and Development, a 6-week, one-on-one program where I walk you step-by-step through the process of planning and developing your story.

This is the exact process I use to plan and develop all of my stories, including SoundCheck, my debut novel. My process is based on the storytelling principles my mentor, Larry Brooks, shared in his bestselling writing book, Story Engineering.

The purpose of this program is to help you start your story off on the right foot, by figuring out how to make it work before you spend any time writing the first draft.

I know how frustrating it can be to get 25,000 words into a story and realize you don’t know where you’re going and you have no idea how to end it.

If you figure that stuff out first, you’ll be off to the races. 

>> Learn more about the Author Intensive: P&D

 

I Did It! Introducing My Debut Novel, SoundCheck

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.49.02 AMWhen I was 13 years old (back in 1996), I wrote a novella. And I wanted to self-publish it, but there weren’t a lot of options, or at least, none that were affordable for a teenager with no job.

But I knew that one day, I would get a novel out there.

It took 18 years of dreaming, and seven years actively working toward it, to make it happen. But it finally happened.

Today, I debut my first published novel: SoundCheck.

SoundCheck

As a rising star in the music industry, Mandy Simon seems to have it all: a killer knack for spotting talent, a promotion on the horizon, and a secret office romance with Miles Anderson, the marketing director at her company. 

But her troubled past causes Mandy to break things off with him. When the decision backfires, she comes up against an ultimatum that puts her dream job at risk. And she finds herself fighting for success–and love–in ways she never imagined.

SoundCheck is now available on Kindle (and it will also be available on print later this week).

>> See SoundCheck on Amazon

(I’ve waited YEARS to be able to write that phrase!)

I did it! And that means you can do it too.

I’m not anymore special than you are. I had a dream and went after it. You can do the same.

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Have you ever published a novel? What did you do to celebrate? 

Confessions of A Converted Story “Pantser”

It isn’t often that I’m truly touched by a blog post. But over the weekend, I was moved to tears when I read a guest post on Larry Brooks’ site, StoryFix.

I was moved because I realized that I had a hand in changing someone’s life; I helped turn an emerging writer from a dreamer into an author with the potential to go far in her novel-writing career.

The guest post was written by my client, Stephanie Raffelock, about her experience writing a novel that works. She worked with Larry and I to make this happen, and now she’s a total believer in the story planning and developing process.

Here’s an excerpt from her post:

Larry Brooks made me cry. An ego bruising, embarrassing cry.

He did it by asking a simple question: What is the dramatic goal of your hero?

I answered every question he put forth in that scary, unflinching Questionnaire he uses in his coaching programs… all but that one.

It was like when my mother asked me if I had taken her beloved blue Mustang without her permission and I told her, “I have so much research to do at the library. I have a paper due.” I never did answer her simple question–“did you take the freaking car or not!?”

A series of questions loomed on the rest of that damn Questionnaire.

After answering the first few, the harsh truth began to reveal itself. In spite of intelligence, a modicum of humor and a great passion for the written word, I would not recognize the components of a good story if I tripped over them and landed in a puddle of my own shock and awe.

Welcome to Novel Writing 101…

…And that’s when I began to study story structure.

Larry recommended story planner and coach, Jennifer Blanchard, to help me take my story to the next level after his initial feedback (it may have had something to do with some of the names I called him at the time). I bit the bullet and signed up to work with her. It is humbling, and also a great deal of fun, to be learning from a woman who is young enough to be my daughter.

Jennifer, by the way, is a passionate practitioner and spokesperson for the very same principles that Brooks used to crush my belief that my original story had legs.

Step by step, she took me through the principles of Story Engineering (Brooks’ first writing book), and helped me to plan and plot a story.

From idea to concept, premise, plot points, pinch points and character development, we worked together for a month before I wrote a single word of prose. The exercise not only changed the way that I write novels, it changed the way that I see the world: there are stories all around us in the people we know. When the next-door neighbor tells me about her trip to visit her aging parents, I’ll be darned if there isn’t a hero, a villain, if there aren’t obstacles to overcome and conflict to negotiate, demons to slay, and a desired goal motivated by stakes that matter.

I watch television and movies through different eyes now.

Where’s the first plot point? What does the hero want? Why am I rooting for him? …

…Working with Larry and with Jennifer, I embraced the notion of being a novelist. I respect the craft of novel writing enough to want to study it, learn it and integrate it, thereby respecting my readers enough to want to give them a good story.

We live in a fast, digitized world, where people abbreviate their words (that drives me crazy) and do their lives in limited character sound bites. Writers, I believe, are entrusted with the sacred task of being the keeper of stories, the full and rich stories that connect us all.

I haven’t read the latest talked about writing book whose cover reads “Story Trumps Structure,” but I can tell you that I hate the title. It goes against the grain of what I know in my bones to be true. Hey buddy, I want to say, story IS structure!

[You can read the rest of her post here.]

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What has your novel-writing journey been like so far? 

 

StoryTV With Jennifer B., Episode One: How Do I Know If My Story Sucks?

How many times have you been writing something and then asked yourself: does this suck?

My guess is, too many times to keep count. I know, because this is a question I hear often in my conversations with writers.

And it’s something I’ve experienced myself.

When I finished writing my first novel back in 2008, I wondered if it was any good. So I sent it off to one of my writer-editor friends for a second opinion.

What came back was valuable feedback that I was able to use to make the decision that the story wouldn’t work as-is, and I’d need to do a full overhaul. Fast-forward to the present, and I’m finally to a place where I’m going to publish what I’ve written.

It took questioning the story that I had to help me see how to turn it into the story that I wanted.

Questioning the quality of your story is a good thing. It means you care enough about the end result to ask the question. 

I decided to answer this question in the debut episode of my new webshow: StoryTV With Jennifer B.

Note: I am a novice videographer and editor, at best. I figured the information I’m sharing is more important than the perfection of the video. Will do better next time.–jb

I’d love to know how you’d answer this question: how do I know if my story sucks?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Ready to hire a content editor to give you feedback on your story–what’s working, what’s not and how to fix it? Check out the Read and Feedback program

My Story Revision Process: An Inside Look

The other day I gave you an inside look at my story creation process, from idea seed to published novel. I’m working through this process right now, as I finish the revisions on my debut novel. So I thought I’d give you an inside look at the specific details of this process, too.

I wrote my (not so) shitty first draft in two months and then let it sit for three months. Once I was ready, I got back to working on the story.

Let me start by saying that I use one of those accordion folders to keep track of all my rewrite stuff. I print a copy of my draft out, and then split it into the four parts of story. Each part goes into a different section in the folder. This is also where I store my scene cards (index cards) and the notebook I use in step 2 of this process (see below).

Here’s how my revision process goes down, along with time estimates for how long each step took me:

1. Read through the entire draft, in one sitting (3 hours)

I like to do this first read-through without a notebook and pen. Torturous, I know. But think it’s really important to read the draft as a whole, before tearing it all apart.

2. Read the draft again, red pen and notebook nearby (2 weeks)

Now I read it again and this time I make tons and tons of notes. I write all over the draft with my red pen and I use my notebook to track everything that needs to be fixed.

I organize my notebook into four sections: Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four (just like the four parts of story). That way I can keep track of my notes and which part of the story they deal with.

Sometimes I even read the draft a few times, looking for errors, things that don’t make sense, etc. I’m very thorough with this step because this step is the core of my entire revision process.

3. Create a post-draft beat sheet (15 hours)

Next thing I do is make a list (beat sheet) of every scene that I have in the current draft. You can’t revise until you know what you have to work with.

This is a crucial step because it allows me to get an overview of the story I’m working from.

4. Review the post-draft beat sheet (10 hours)

I take a look at the beat sheet to determine what needs to be:

  • Deleted
  • Added
  • Moved around
  • Fixed
  • Changed

I make notes and draw arrows all over this beat sheet. In this step I’m doing a lot of reconfiguring of my story.

And I was able to tear through this step pretty quickly because of how much planning and development I did ahead of time.

5. Create a new beat sheet (3 hours)

Yes, I actually do this step twice. Not because I have to, but because I prefer to work from a clean beat sheet that doesn’t have red markings all over it. You can always skip this step if you don’t mind them.

6. Put together scene cards (2 weeks)

Now I take the new beat sheet and I actually write up individual index cards for each scene.

On these scene cards I include the mission of the scene (what it’s purpose is in the story), when and where it takes place, and any notes I have for what needs to be included or mentioned in the scene.

6.5 Inspiration strikes, make more changes (2 weeks)

So this isn’t a step you have to follow either, but I’m putting it in here because it’s an extra step that I had as I started working through the revisions on my current novel. I was having a hard time connecting an important piece of information in the story, and so I kept brainstorming as I worked on the scene cards.

And then something hit me. An idea for how to connect the information that didn’t feel quite right yet.

Totally awesome when this happens… but it meant I had to re-work my scene cards again, adding in new scenes, removing scenes and making sure everything synced up.

7. Start rewriting (2 months)

Finally I felt confident that everything in my story flowed and was cohesive. It was time to start rewriting.

And since I planned so much ahead of time, I was able to use about 65 to 70 percent of what I already had in my first draft.

So my rewriting has been a lot of cutting and pasting from my old draft to my new one, and then filling the gaps and making the changes that needed to be made.

I am a pen-and-paper kind of writer when I’m planning and developing, and also when I’m in “reconfigure” step. Once I’m ready to do the writing, I use Scrivener. I love how it allows me to keep everything organized and write one scene at a time (which also helps me avoid distractions that come from writing in a Word document).

Three Things That Made the Biggest Difference For Me

To wrap things up, here are the three things that made the biggest difference for me during this revision process:

1. Having A Process to Follow–revisions can go on forever unless you have a process for knowing what needs to happen and about how long it might take. Having a process for me to follow made the rewrites a whole lot more streamlined.

2. Not Being Attached–during the revision process, you’ll be making a lot of changes. And you have to be open to that happening, otherwise you’ll never finish. You do this by not being attached to the story.

You have to be willing to let go of things that just aren’t working, in order to make the story better.

3. Be Open and Willing to Call It Done–again, revisions could go on forever if you wanted them to. So you have to be open to getting inspired as you work through the process, just as long as you know when it call it done.

I could have spent another two weeks revising my beat sheets or scene cards, but I knew that the story was in a really good place and it was time to write. Plus, once I’m finished with the rewrites, I will go back through and focus on one scene at a time, adding description, making sure things are cohesive and that all the pieces connect.

My revision/rewrites process has taken me almost four month (so far).

But it doesn’t have to take you that long.

Working with me, you can go from first draft to “almost ready to publish” draft in 90 days.

My work as a story coach is all about:

  • Efficiency–we get down to business and get shit done. (You won’t have to spend as much time revising as I did.)
  • Saving time–you won’t waste time writing a single word until your story revision plan is intact and you’re feeling good about it

Ready to explore what working with a professional story coach can do for you? 

>> Join me for a free Strategy Call

An Inside Look At My Story Creation Process

I spend a lot of time talking about how to write stories. I share the processes that I use and teach. But I wanted to go a step further, and give you an inside look at my specific processes and timelines for finishing my debut novel (ETA: May 2015).

I’m not gonna share all the specifics about the story right now (I’ll be sharing that info really soon), but to give you a snippet, this is the basic storyline: An employee and her manager engage in a secret relationship, but things take a turn for the worse when she breaks it off with him.

Stage One: Planning and Development (Eight Months)

The original idea seed I started with was inspired by a book I read called, Why Work Sucks (And How To Fix It), as well as my experiences working in Corporate America.

I wanted to tell the story of a woman with a tragedy in her past who is trying to make a new life for herself through her career as a music promoter, but she’s so out of practice at love that she doesn’t know how to handle it when the real thing shows up. And interspersed in this story I wanted to share my experiences in the workplace, and tie them into the Why Work Sucks book.

Except that wasn’t enough to make a story. I had a Concept, but no Premise

What I initially worked out was that the Protagonist’s boss would be out to get her, and that’s why her work was being sabotaged. But it just didn’t feel strong enough to me. She needed a much better journey to go on in the story (and a much more compelling reason for the reader to root for her).

That’s when I reached out to my mentor and colleague, Larry Brooks, to analyze what I had so far, and tell me which direction I should go in. Larry gave me some great feedback, as well as a kick-ass twist on how to make the story more conflicted and awesome.

I took everything I had figured out during my initial development of the story, combined it with the feedback I got from Larry, and I started planning out the specific scenes I needed in my story, to make it unfold in a compelling way.

I spent months working through the scene plan. I must have written up at least three different beat sheets and created index cards for every scene, twice. And then when I was so close to being finished, I found an even better way to amp up the story.

So I changed a good portion of it. Re-did my scene cards and took the story in a new direction.

This entire process took me about eight months. The planning and development process can be done a lot faster when you have someone to help you and keep you accountable.

Stage Two: The (Not So) Shitty First Draft (Two Months)

Since I did so much planning and development of my story ahead of time, I was able to bang out my first draft in two months, flat (and my goal was three months).

I had an accountability partner who I checked in with formally once a week via email, and also sent text updates about my progress throughout the week.

Having accountability on top of my story roadmap is what helped me get this draft finished so quickly. 

And because of all my planning this draft was decent. I knew right away I’d have to make changes, but I also knew I could use about 65 to 70 percent of what I already had. Which is pretty amazing, given it was the first draft.

Stage Three: Let It Sit (Three Months)

I usually recommend letting your first draft sit for a minimum of six weeks before you go back and try to revise it. You need enough distance to give yourself fresh eyes.

For me, that distance was about three months, because I had many other projects going on. So my eyes were really, really fresh when I finally went back to it.

Stage Four: Revision (Four Months)

I follow a very specific process for doing revisions on my storiesThis process includes multiple readings of the draft I have, three beat sheets and creating the final index cards I’ll work from when I piece together my new draft.

After I have all the revisions in place and on my revision roadmap, I start rewriting the draft. Since I was able to use 65 to 70 percent of what I already had, I basically spend a lot of my rewriting time copying and pasting from my first draft into the new draft, and then editing for clarity and connecting or changing information to match the rest of the story.

Once my revised draft is complete, I actually go through one final revision. At this point my story is in place and solid. The bones, muscles and joints are all there.

The final revision I do before sending it off to my editor and Beta Readers is on each scene. I go through each scene, one-by-one, and make sure it’s the best I can make it.

I focus on adding more descriptions (I tend to write bare-bones, it’s the journalist in me), fixing up characterization and making sure everything flows and fits together cohesively.

Stage Five: Off to My Editor and Beta Readers (Two to Three Months)

Now I let the draft I send off to my editor and Beta Readers sit for the time being. Instead, I’ll focus on building up my author platform and getting things ready for publishing the novel. I may even work on the early planning and development for my next story.

When the edits and feedback come back from my editor and Betas, then I can get back to work on the story.

Stage Six: Cleaning Things Up (One Month)

This time around it’s all about cleaning up the new draft by making the edits from my editor and Beta Readers. This is the polishing stage for me.

I’m not working on anything major, like structure, characterization, plot, etc. Those things have already been dealt with in Stage Four.

When all this is complete, there’s one stage left.

Stage Seven: Publish (TBD)

Right now I’m at Stage Four with my debut novel. I am more than a quarter of the way through the rewrites, and have a goal of getting the draft to my editor and Beta Readers by mid-March, latest. This is setting me up for a May publish date.

Since I haven’t gone through this stage with my novel yet, I won’t go into too much detail. But I will write another post telling you all about it as I get further along in the process.

I’ve gone several novels in different stages of this process, but so far I haven’t been inspired to take any of them all the way. Until this story.

This story, I’m publishing. (More on that soon.)

Three Things That Made the Biggest Difference For Me

So to wrap things up, here are the three things I did that made the biggest difference for me when it came to getting this story figured out, written and then revised:

1. I Got Really Clear On My Story–before I wasted any time writing a single word of this story, I spent a lot of time (eight months in this case) getting clear on everything.

Who is my Antagonist? What does he want? What does my Protagonist want? What’s her character arc? What’s my story structure? What happens in Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four? How does it end?

These are (just some of) the questions I knew the answers to, before I started writing.

2. I Got Feedback From A Pro Story Coach–I know it’s cliche, but you really can’t see the forest from the trees. Being so close to my story, I needed to get an outside perspective to help me make sense of things.

I would never take a story into Stage Two of this process unless I had my plan analyzed by a story coach.

3. I Made Writing A Habit–when I decided to bring this story to life, I knew I was committing a lot of time to it. And I knew how badly I wanted it.

So I found a way to spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day working on my story (regardless of which stage I’m in). Most days I found more time.

Having a daily habit of working on your story will help you stick with it and move through all seven stages.

My process for this story, from initial “idea seed” to final draft, has taken me about two years.

But it doesn’t have to take you that long.

Working with me, you can go from story idea to completed first draft in 90 days. (Or, if you already have a first draft, I can take you through the revision process in 90 days.) And then you’ll be thismuch closer to publishing your story.

My work as a story coach is all about:

  • Efficiency–we get down to business and get shit done. You won’t spend eight months planning (like I did)
  • Saving time–you won’t waste time writing a single word until your story plan is intact and you’re feeling good about it

Ready to explore what working with a professional story coach can do for your story? 

>> Join me for a free Strategy Call