How To Avoid A Character Takeover

How To Avoid A Character Takeover

How To Avoid a Character Takeover

I want to share a story about Sonee Singh, one of the members in the Writing Gym. Like many writers, Sonee has a very specific goal: traditional publication.

 Traditional publication is not easy, especially with strict industry standards. However for Sonee, the goal seemed unreachable, because she didn’t even have a completed novel. 

Sonee had trouble progressing with the plot of her novel. She felt stuck. She had most of the story put together, but saw holes, and wasn’t sure how to solve that problem.

In March of this year, Sonee had a draft of her novel that didn’t have a complete ending. She had an ending, but it wasn’t where she wanted it to be.

She knew she needed more work and more clarity, but wasn’t sure how to get there. 

Her plot had big events that marked her protagonist’s journey, yet felt disjointed because nothing tied the bigger events together. 

Sonee looked at her work and felt frustrated, and considered dropping the piece altogether. 

I kept coming back to it, I just had no idea how to do it.

Sonee knew she had a story worth telling, but didn’t have the tools to express her writing the way she wanted. Reluctant to give the story up, she tried out some resources. 

She initially turned to beta readers that provided unhelpful, conflicting feedback. Afterwards, Sonee decided she had enough. 

She decided to reach out to me.

We began working together, and I read through her manuscript twice. After some revisions, she created a second draft.

The first revision focused on details such as character arc, plot arc, the big picture, and how these could be used to create a cohesive narrative.

Through discussions around the revisions, I was able to help Sonee organize her thoughts and equip her with tools needed to look at these details on her own. 

I also asked Sonee guiding questions about her plot and helped her realize how to solve any issue she comes across in her writing. 

As a professional, I know what you need to do to make your book better, but most importantly I value your voice and want you to create the solutions to your novel.  

I think the beauty of what Annalisa does is that she has that insight, but she also doesn’t just give the answer. She just poses questions that force me to come to that answer and I think it’s become a very organic process.

With my help, Sonee has had multiple breakthroughs in her writing, and is on the journey to finishing her novel with confidence. 

Before coming to me, Sonee knew she had a problem to fix, and traditional publishing was a far-off dream.

Today, Sonee believes she’s capable of meeting industry standards, and she’s one step closer to achieving her goal of traditional publication. 

I’m so happy to see Sonee grow as a confident writer, and am excited to see where she goes from here. 

Do you feel stuck in your writing and don’t know where to go next? Have publishing dreams but have no idea how to get there? Let’s chat.

Until next time. Happy writing. 

How To Turn Your Writing into a Real Career

How To Turn Your Writing into a Real Career

How To Turn Your Writing into a Real Career


As many of you may know, we run a Facebook group called “Write to Publish and Sell Your Novel” where I share many of my publishing and writing tips.

I’ve been going through some of the pending posts, and I was really surprised at how many “Buy my Book” kind of posts there were along with questions about our process. 

Now, here’s something that you need to know about this Facebook group, Write to Publish and Sell Your Novel. We are about one thing, and one thing only, and that’s real results.

What are real results? Real results mean successfully turning your writing into a career and creating an author lifestyle that attracts readers and allows you to publish time and time again.

Members of the Writing Gym are getting real results.

They’re writing, revising, and publishing books. They’re getting on national television, gaining readers, doing book signings and events. They’re doing the things that makes them able to call themselves authors. This month, we got two publishing contracts for members of the Writing Gym. 

So, how are we getting real results?

I’ll focus on what we don’t do, because there’s a lot of practices that you’re going to see in other groups that we don’t do here in Write to Publish. 

First and foremost, what we don’t do are beta readers.

We believe in real, personalized feedback that gets results and is based on the way that your brain learns and creates. Beta readers are not going to help you get the kind of feedback you need, feedback that’s going to move your piece to successful publication, and eventually to selling many books and having readers. Rather, beta readers may derail that effort, and that’s why we don’t do them.

Secondly, we don’t focus on questions such as “what should my character’s name be?” in this group.

Those are fine questions to ask, but we take care of those questions over in the Writing Gym during the revision phase of the process. This phase is when we look at questions around characters, plotlines, place names, character names, possible titles, etc.

Why don’t we talk about these kinds of questions in Write to Publish? Because those kinds of questions ultimately have to do with personal preference, which is an opinion.

For example, feedback such as “I don’t like Jennifer, choose Mary for the character’s name” is arbitrary. Opinions aren’t helpful if you want to create a publishing career. What we want are results

Lastly, another thing that we don’t do in this group is post “Buy my $0.99 ebook” posts.

I’m sure your $0.99 ebook is fabulous, but let’s focus on what’s really important here, which is results. Our goal is to turn your writing into a career, and you are not going to create an author lifestyle based on $0.99 ebooks.

Let’s just do the math and think about your grocery bill for this week. Think about how many books you’d have to sell just to buy groceries. Or think about your mortgage, your rent, your car — a $0.99 ebook is not going to cut it.  But, we do care about $14.99 paperbacks. We do care about $24.99 hardcovers. We do care about publishing with the Big Five, and we care about creating an author lifestyle.

We care about quality.

If you want to create the author lifestyle and get real results, you’re in the right place. This is what our Facebook group, Write to Publish and Sell Your Novel, is all about. 

If that sounds like you, I would love to chat with you. Good luck and until next time.

The Truth About the Publishing Industry

The Truth About the Publishing Industry

The Truth About the Publishing Industry 

I’ve been in the publishing industry a long time, I’ve been a writing coach for a long time, and I’ve been a professional writer for a long time.

I’d like to think that I’ve seen close to everything when it comes to writing and publishing.

I know that it is easy to get sucked in by people who tell you what you want to hear:

  • “It’s so easy to get published.”
  • “I’m gonna make you a bestseller.”
  • “All you have to do is write a novel in a month during NaNoWriMo and everything’s gonna be wonderful.”

I see authors waste money on whatever it is these people are peddling – they waste $100 at a time, $200 at a time, $2,000 at a time–and get 0 results. What they bought is what they wanted to hear. But the truth is: publishing a book is an investment of time and money.

Here at the Writing Gym, we give you programs that actually work.

  • Do you want to finish a novel?
  • Do you want to publish a novel?
  • Do you want to sell a novel?

We have three separate programs for each of these at the Writing Gym. We take the time that’s thorough enough to get you to a point where your book is actually publishable. We speak with agents and editors and publishers every week to make sure that your manuscript is the quality product that they’re looking for–and not just some kind of schlepped-together garbage that you threw together in a month.

If you’re not ready to make that real investment in yourself and to face the reality of what the publishing industry is and what they’re looking for–then it’s just not time for you.

Is there an exception? Can entering NaNoWriMo, writing in one month, or even a week work sometimes? Of course. For every rule there’s an exception–you’ve heard me say that before. But that is not always the case.

Here at the Writing Gym we tell you about real results based on hard work and on investing on yourself as a writer so that you can live that author lifestyle–whatever that means to you.

And that is the truth.

If you’re interested in investing in your author lifestyle, let’s chat

To speak with the Writing Gym Team about where you are, where you'd like to go & how to get there, choose a time by clicking below.

Want to watch the video on the truth about the publishing industry? Click here: 

How Do We Help Authors To Publish At The Writing Gym?

How Do We Help Authors To Publish At The Writing Gym?

How Do We Help Authors to Publish at the Writing Gym?

What is the whole intent of the Writing Gym?

We help you finish, publish, and sell your novel.


VIP Membership

You first join the VIP Membership where we help you finish your novel.

Publishing Mastermind

Once you’ve finished this step, you can move on to the Publishing Mastermind where we spend some time revising your manuscript to publishable.

Novel Selling U

Finally, you move on to the final step–Novel Selling U.

If you’d like some more information about what we do in the Writing Gym and how it is that we help authors to finish novels, to publish novels, and to sell novels, I would love to chat with you.

You can put yourself directly in my calendar. And until then, happy writing!

The Rules of Writing: Nothing Like the Rules of Real Life

The Rules of Writing: Nothing Like the Rules of Real Life

The Rules of Writing: Nothing Like the Rules of Real Life

The rules of writing are nothing like the rules of real life.

In real life, we censor ourselves, leave out the gory or embarrassing or overly personal details of the stories we tell about our daily lives.

In writing, we have to be so brutally honest about the human emotional reality of the situations we portray, we are left feeling exposed–if we have done our job right.

Good writing is–unlike all of the people with which we are surrounded (and even ourselves, if we dared be totally truthful about it– honest to the point of purity.

Perhaps, this is why those of us who love to read have such a deep connection to it: its honesty is such a relief, so compelling, such a breath of fresh air, that we miss the characters-turned-friends once we’ve come to the end of a good yarn.

Good writing is that guy you invariably end up sitting next to on the plane who wants to tell you every detailed encounter with the junior high bully or every hobby his grandkids ever pursued…except when it’s good writing, it’s actually interesting. The story is compelling even though you’re not male or have never crossed paths with your school’s bully, or have no kids nevermind grandkids. It has an emotional reality to it so convincing that not only do you believe it, you feel it–and you want more.

This is what good storytellers do. Yet doing so is surprisingly difficult, which is perhaps why Hemingway compared writing to sitting in front of a typewriter and bleeding. If we’re doing it right, the rawness of our humanity bleeds out onto the paper.

The process to create writing that is true to the human experience is akin to the Velveteen Rabbit’s process of becoming real. “Does it hurt?” the rabbit asks in Williams’ children’s story.

Where writing is concerned, yes, it hurts. It hurts because it is difficult to draw on those emotional reserves, to extract the essence of the most challenging moments we have lived through, and because honesty–especially with ourselves–can be unnerving even in small doses.

But is it necessary? Absolutely. Writing that is inauthentic is writing that is forgotten and put down.

When we write, we are given permission to break free from the mold of societal expectations about oversharing. In fact, our stories fall flat due to undersharing.

And like the Velveteen Rabbit’s becoming real, learning to share at this level, to reach those depths of honesty with ourselves and our readers, and finding the voice to express it, all take time.

It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. (Williams)

The same could be said, I would argue, for the creation of good writers.

Writers must be real–first with themselves and, in turn, with their audiences. We must be willing to be the oversharer on the plane to the point of hyperbole, to tell not only the story, but to reveal its deepest emotional and psychological underpinnings. This catharsis requires a lot of mining. (The process may also be why Hemingway suggested writing while intoxicated, but that’s a different topic for another day.)

So, go ahead: put yourself out there. Be “that guy” on the train. Be the grandma with the wallet-sized photos of her plethora of grandchildren. But tell it real. Tell it raw. Be, as a writer, the person polite society rejects in walnut-panelled parlors for saying what was best left unsaid.

Oversharing is the burden of being a good writer, but it is, too, its simultaneous freedom.

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Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

6c42527a-57b7-47ff-85a4-aa55347e5fb21) Writing is an art. Although many writers will pay the bills with technical writing or designing social media posts, they are still artists. Art is about experiences, emotions, forms, and substance. Many people can write a grammatically correct sentence. But the writer will know that sometimes you start a sentence with a conjunction such as but because it sounds better. (See what I did there?)

The writer will spend hours agonizing over one line of dialogue or tearing through a thesaurus not looking for a word, but the right word. (See more about that here.) A true writer seeks the right adjectives to convey the reader’s or character’s feelings, and will make the reader feel exactly what emotions they are trying to share. Through painstaking nit-picking diction, that writer will show, not tell the raw human experience. (Remember, the Rules of Writing are Nothing Like the Rules of Real Life.) Great art takes time and practice to produce and writing is no exception.

2) One of the great writing adages is “write what you know.” We’ve all heard it, however, that doesn’t mean the writer can’t expand the breadth of what you know and care about. Brush up on your history for inspiration. Read the science and technology section of a newspaper to gain ideas of what the future can hold. Go to a place you’ve never been before– or even more daring talk to a stranger. Travel. Learn to dance. Weed plants out of the garden. Want your writing to be a pleasure to read? Create a piece that you loved to write.

3) The only writer you need to be is yourself. Write with your own voice. While it’s fun to try on the voices of authors we love, and different purposes have different modes, if the words on the page are not your own, then your voice is not being heard. Why would you leave your voice out of the important writing conversation? You are an important member of the banquet.

There is no correct way, no perfect way to write, to convey an idea, to express yourself. Some writers don’t use standard punctuation marks, some write in regional vernacular, some never use contractions. How you write is up to you. And how do you find your own writer’s’ voice?

You won’t know until you write.

There are many rules and tips about writing, but it’s crucial to remember some of the basics: writing is art, write what you know but learn what you can, and the only writer you can be is yourself. We’d love to have you join us for one of the upcoming writing groups or classes. I also have a few openings in our Writing Gym and I’d love to talk to you to see if we’re a good fit. What are you writing? I’d love to hear about it here.

All of the best & until next time, happy writing.

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