Got Four Traditional Book Deals in Six Months

Stephen Oliver

  • Overcame his ‘submission’ block
  • Published 4 novels
  • Published 15 short stories, some of which are included in anthologies
  • Has an audiobook of one of his published novels coming out 
  • Has several short stories in their final edits

Stephen has always been a prolific writer, capable of churning out original and promising manuscripts. The problem for Stephen was that he didn’t know how to revise his manuscripts to publishable. When Stephen began working with us, Annalisa helped him revise his short stories to meet publishing standards and compile them into a cohesive anthology.  After a few rounds of revision, she called an agent she knew, who immediately asked for Stephen’s full manuscript. Just a few days later, another agency requested another one of his manuscripts. Stephen is now on his way to living the author lifestyle he longs for. 

Annalisa is a bloody marvel. Since starting with Annalisa I’ve completed two anthologies, written a third, and started two more–not to mention making major progress on my novel. She brought things out of me I hadn’t even realized I knew and made me think about my own writing in ways I’d never done before.

Landed a Two-Book Publishing Deal 


Sonee Singh

Before I met Sonee, she had already finished a draft of her first novel. She knew she needed to revise her draft, but none of the writing workshops she’s attended ever helped. She was going back and forth in her writing, trying to fix what she had already created, but she always felt like something was missing. Her story was not where she wanted it to be. There was  no clarity in her writing. We, at the Writing Gym, helped Sonee to the right direction and gain the clarity she needed. Now, she is an award-winning writer with multiple publishing deals. 

At the Writing Gym, there is an ongoing process, an ongoing community, and an ongoing support group because it’s not just about work with Annalisa. It’s also about learning who you are as an author, what your voice is, how your writing is coming together, and getting over the fear and uncertainty that you have. These are things you don’t get anywhere else, at least not in the way the Writing Gym does. It is a multifaceted process. It’s not just editing and it’s not just coaching.

Won Honorable Mention in The WritersWeekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest

Barbara Pattee

Barbara had spent years writing on her own. Despite her love for writing, her experience with receiving the wrong kinds of feedback didn’t help her improve. At the Writing Gym, Barbara finally has access to a supportive group of writers and to qualified feedback that is personally tailored to her writing. She has also added more emotion, something she was taught to hold back, to her stories. Her writing is thriving at the Writing Gym. Winning honorable mention in The WritersWeekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest is one of the testaments to how far she has come.

About joining the Writing Gym-it’s really about deciding how serious you are. How much do you want to be a writer? Is it a hobby, or is it something you want as a career?

Earned International 3-Book Deal

Terence Harkin

      • Won agent over after reviewing first five pages and pitch with Annalisa
      • Earned three-book deal 
      • Books will have foreign translation rights and be distributed in the USA, Europe, and Asia

Terry met Annalisa at a writers conference in 2017, just hours before he was due to present his manuscript to a literary agent. With Annalisa’s help, he perfected  his pitch and fine-tuned his first five pages of his manuscript. With his newfound confidence, Terry blew the agent out of the water: he walked out with a 3-book deal that will be marketed internationally and translated into several languages. He was so grateful for the help, he took the whole Date with the Muse team out to dinner in New York that night! And when it was time for Terry to start work on his second book, he had no doubt about who to turn to.

I was having some doubts about how my second book was going to grab an audience. Working with Annalisa, she gave me a lot of valuable and positive feedback, which gave me a lot of incentive to go forward. This was instrumental in presenting myself to publishers, especially where Annalisa helped me sharpen up my pitch.

Gained More Confidence in Himself and in His Writing

    • Received his first byline with the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper while at the Writing Gym.
    • Gained more confidence not only in his writing but also on himself 
    • Can find areas in need of improvement in his writing with more ease than before

O’Dell Isaac always felt like he could write, but a decade went by without any progress towards writing or publishing a book. In November of 2018, he wrote 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month. Though it was an accomplishment worth celebrating, O’Dell didn’t know what his next steps were. I asked him: “What’s next?” He was stumped. We had a long conversation about his future goals and he instantly discovered what he wanted for his novel and for himself as a writer. Since accepting my invitation to the Writing Gym, O’Dell has become a professional writer.

The great thing about the Writing Gym is the accountability of having someone get you to work out every day and to have those same people comment on your results. It’s one thing to want something, but it’s another to have a plan—a concrete plan with steps to take.

Traditionally Published through Literary Wanderlust

Barbara Zito

  • Finished novel after years of frustration
  • Revised manuscript to publishable in Writing Gym VIP Program
  • Received full manuscript request within 20 minutes of query

Barbara is an MFA writer with incredible wit and talent, but when she came to us at the Writing Gym, she was feeling frustrated and defeated by the writing process. She was struggling to finish her manuscript and didn’t know how to make it “publishable.” Barbara and Annalisa  worked on revisions over the course of several months. When she finished revising, Annalisa sent her synopsis to an agent she works with frequently. Within 20 minutes of reading the synopsis, she asked for a full manuscript. 

My time with the Writing Gym has been nothing short of amazing. I have taken a story that has been in my brain for years and turned it into a humorous novel of which I am fiercely proud. Now that I’ve proven to myself I can finish writing a novel, I’m off to write my second while I query the first to agents. Look out, New York Times bestseller list. Here I come!

Finished a Novel in 7 weeks

Hannah Johnson

  • Finished a full-length novel with more than 100,000 words in 7 weeks
  • Published her first short story in the anthology Written Tales Magazine Volume 3: Tis the Season
  • Wrote 5 days a week in the VIP program
  • Wrote 35,000 words in 2 weeks

Hannah Johnson always dreamed of finishing a novel and had tried time and time again. Despite being enrolled in writing courses, she felt like her novel was getting nowhere. She was getting mixed feedback and, sometimes, unnecessary feedback. Instead of helping, her writing courses left her all the more lost and confused. At the Writing Gym, we gave her the steps, the tools, and the guidance that she needed to complete a novel. For the first time, she began meeting her writing goals. In the end, Hannah did not finish her novel in eight weeks as most of our authors do. She finished writing her 100,000 word novel in seven weeks

Received Her First Ever Manuscript Request

Kate Godfrey

  • Finished her first novel at the Writing Gym and received first manuscript request.
  • Gained the confidence to trust her own instincts as a writer.
  • Overcame her biggest challenge of making multidimensional characters.

Before I met Kate, she was reaching a point in her life where she wanted to take her writing seriously, to finally make writing her career. With so many workshops and writing groups available, knowing where to start was confusing. She and I got on a call. I invited her to join the Writing Gym after she talked about her writing and publishing goals and she accepted my invitation. 

Through positive and constructive criticism, Kate finished her first novel and confidently advanced in the revision process. We helped her to hone their skills, trust her own instincts, and develop and enhance her own voice. 

The Writing Gym is a university for real life writing. The Writing Gym will have a program for you,  depending on where you are at your writing journey. Besides the education, there is also an encouraging writing community and an emotional support system with Annalisa and her team. It’s a very positive immersive experience in excellence. All life coaching comes from within. The way that Annalisa designed this program brings that positivity out from the inside. I have to look for what’s good in my writing, what there is to celebrate. This kind of positivity isn’t toxic because we can always find a silver lining even when we don’t see it at first. It’s training me to support myself.

Earned a Two-Book Deal

Clara Fay

After she retired, Clara Fay finally listened to the inner voice telling her to write. She was able to finish a manuscript and even had a developmental editor go through her work. Thinking her manuscript was ready, she spent six months querying.  

89 queries later, she still had yet to receive a positive response from any agent. Stuck at a standstill, Clara realized she needed a brand new publication plan. Then she met me at an online conference.

For Clara, the Writing Gym was a multilayered experience: there were good, positive things happening within herself, the emotional safety that our community gave her, and the trustworthiness that our professionals provided. The support and encouragement from the Writing Gym kept her motivated and inspired. We guided Clara to the right direction by allowing her to open up, free of judgment, and by seeing her as both a writer and a person. 

I would go back and tell my past self that there is more to the Writing Gym than meets the eye. You will be blown away. This program is different from other programs because it takes into account the whole person. It’s not just some bodiless person writing away. It’s not just about your education and knowledge, but also your wellbeing. The fact that you have someone there just looking after people’s wellbeing is completely different and absolutely special. And Annalisa’s whole theory of celebration is right on the mark, because we all tend to be so harsh on ourselves. When you take a moment to celebrate you realize ‘I am worthy.’

Two publications in 6 months

Lauren Barker

  • Short Story to be published in anthology
  • “Revolutionized” writing process
  • “Excited about writing again”

Before Lauren joined the Writing Gym, she was frustrated. She had been working on a novel for years, but was stuck spinning in endless circles of doubt, and frequently  avoided writing at all. Eventually, Lauren realized she needed to find help if she was going to continue writing. She needed to rethink her writing process and find a way to overcome her own inner critic.

Since joining the Writing Gym, Lauren reports that her writing process has been revolutionized. Not to mention, one of her short stories was published in an anthology, an achievement which she says “I could NOT have without the techniques I’ve learned here.”

Do the Writing Gym. Jump now. If I could, I would go back and tell myself this years ago. I’d probably be so much further along than I am now, and would have saved myself so much frustration, so much wasted time and honestly wasted money too.  The Writing Gym has been by the most productive, most helpful writing program, I’ve used. I wish that I’d started it years ago.

Landed a Literary Agent

Jeanne Covert

  • Finished manuscript in Writing Gym
  • Earned two manuscript requests from top agencies in one day
  • Successfully transitioning from screenwriting to novel-writing 

Jeanne had been working for years as a screenwriter, when she decided to make a transition into writing novels. The problem was, Jeanne couldn’t find the right editor for this project. Nobody seemed to understand the crossover between writing for film and writing for the page, and failed at helping her make this jump. Finally,  she found Annalisa, who has experience in both screenwriting and fiction. It was a perfect fit. After just a few months of working together, Jeanne not only felt her writing skills were “light-years ahead” of where she started, but she had finished her manuscript. “Annalisa was the only person that I’d come across who was able to do that for me,” she says.

Shortly after finishing edits, Annalisa began calling agents on Jeanne’s behalf. Jeanne quickly received manuscript requests from both William Morris and Folio, two of the highest-profile agencies  in the industry, and two of her top picks. Jeanne is well on her way to publishing with a leading agency, and with all that she learned in the Writing Gym, feels both confident and excited about transitioning to writing novels.

If I was going to spend the money getting my MFA or spend the money on the Writing Gym, there is no question. Save the MFA money and put it into the Writing Gym  The MFA may or may not get you where you want to be, but work we do in the Writing Gym does.

Revised Full-Length Novel and Has Received Two Manuscript Requests

Brendan Thompson

  • Revised manuscript to publishable
  • Has received two manuscript requests from two agencies
  • Feels more prepared to direct his own Marketing

Brendan has been passionate about writing ever since he can remember. Before he joined the Writing Gym, he had written and tried to publish a few of his fantasy novels. Although he was a skilled writer, none of his queries were ever answered. He knew he lacked knowledge about how to navigate the publishing industry, and realized that without professional help he was never going to professionally publish.

When Brendan grew close to finishing his newest manuscript, he decided this time he decided didn’t want to cut any corners. So he decided to join the Writing Gym and get the professional support and connections he knew he needed. Since then, he has completely revised and rewritten his manuscript to a publishable standard–without losing its essence–and has already received two manuscript requests in just his first round of submissions. 

There is a reason why professional authors pair up with professional editors.

Finding Time to Write

Allie Powers

  • Wrote 1,000 Words per Day in Writing Gym VIP with Three Month Old At Home
  • Developed craft to professional level
  •  Found confidence as a writer

Allie had a long list of reasons not to write–with a three month old at home, her life was already bursting at the seams with responsibilities. But writing was her passion, and she had dreams of publishing. Allie didn’t want to wait for her kid to grow and life to pass her by before working towards her dreams, but she knew if she was going to take this leap, she needed someone to hold her accountable and give her support. That’s why Allie joined the Writing Gym. With the support of her personal trainer and encouragement of the Writing Gym curriculum and community  she’s managed to write an average of 1,000 words a day. At this rate, Allie is well on her way to finishing and publishing her book. Yes, even with a newborn to take care of. 

It’s hard finding time with a 3-month-old, but it’s been excuse after excuse for years now.  I need to sit down, say I’m going to write this book. I’m really glad I joined the Writing Gym VIP  because I finally have the accountability and support to get my book done.

Finished, Pitched, Published–in under 12 months

Jim Hoffman


When Jim first came to us, he had a concept for a book that had been on his heart for while. Trouble was: he wasn’t sure if it was a novel, a memoir, or non-fiction. We sorted through his ideas, settled on a topic, and outline, and Annalisa worked with Jim to hone his research, and organize his ideas. Jim’s was a timely topic that he wanted to get into the world quickly–and quickly he did. In less than 12 months from completing his writing and revision work in the Writing Gym, Jim had his traditionally published book in hand.

Published, Created Coaching Programs & Retreats based on book

Barb Klein

  • Revised and published her book 111 Invitations
  • Created coaching programs based on the book that has led to multiple retreats

As a life coach with a blossoming career, Barb realized she needed to publish an expert book if she was going to take her business to the next level. Putting words on a page was no problem–Barb had plenty of wisdom to share with her readers. But Barb realized making that book publishable was a different story. So when she completed her first draft, she turned to Annalisa for editing. Annalisa worked with Barb to make her manuscript publishable. Sure enough, Barb quickly got published. As a result of this success, Barb has gone on to add  multiple coaching programs and retreats to her business, and continues to see the benefits of her expert book every day. 

What I appreciated was Annalisa’s approach to editing and her commitment to be sure that my voice came through, above all else. She worked very quickly and met our agreed-upon deadline. Through our initial conversation about my book and my desires, Annalisa gained a solid understanding of who I was and what I was trying to express through my book. Her editing suggestions were respectful of this and allowed me to choose what felt right to me. I was completely satisfied with her work.

Overcoming World Builder’s Disease

John & Annalisa met up for lunch (with Mia, of course) to celebrate his manuscript’s completion



When John first came to us, he was struggling with world builder’s disease–you know that never-ending rabbit hole of research and creation–which can be a lot of fun, but which also does not get your novel written. John talks about how the support in the Writing Gym was instrumental in discovering strategies for success, and shares those strategies with us. 

Publication and Book Signings

William Vanderbook

  • Wrote and published The Adventures of Hannah Claire
  • Invited to multiple book signings and speaking events as a result
  • Writing sequel to his book 
  • Short Story Published in Anthology

William Vanderbrook came to us with a rough draft of his first manuscript. He knew he had something good, but if he was going to succeed in getting published, he needed a quality editor. He enrolled in the Writing Gym, revised his manuscript, and successfully published. His book has become widely popular, and he has been invited to numerous book signings and speaking events as a result. He is now working on his second novel, and once again has elected our services to guide him through 

August 8th was the first anniversary of the release of Adventures of Hannah Claire, time goes by quickly. Thank you Annalisa for the professional services that produced my first publication

International Publication

Dr. Priya Saklani

I want to express my gratitude to [Annalisa] for helping me with my book, as my editor, my coach, my guide, and by being a powerful medium for me to share my story and send my message. [Annalisa is] a God send for me, I felt the soul connection from the very first day, and I really appreciate [Annalisa’s] kindness and I thank [her] from the bottom of my heart. What [she is] doing for me means the world to me, words do not even do justice to what I want to express. Souls like [her], make it easier for us to speak and give us courage to share our stories. Thank you for holding my hand through this. Many blessings and higher consciousness to you.

Stopped Spinning in Revisions & On Path to Publication

Marlena Colino Leach

Marlena has been writing for 15 years, but as she began the end of her manuscripts, felt stumped about where to turn. She was struggling to get through the editing process and felt she was spending way too much time researching the querying process. She was feeling frustrated with how slow the final steps of publication are, and was beginning to worry that at the rate she was going, it would be years before her book got anywhere. Then she found the Writing Gym.

The Writing Gym has given her the tools and support to edit her manuscript according to industry standards, and with Annalisa’s help, she has already begun the querying process. Marlena says that her confidence has skyrocketed since joining the Writing Gym, and after a decade and a half of writing, finally feels she’s found clarity on the process.

While revising my documents to send to agents,  it hit me in an overwhelming way how my story, my manuscript, went through an evolution in the making. Recognizable, but yet, skillfully crafted. Describing my story in the query letter, synopsis, and elevator pitch is a huge step towards getting published. I am actually preparing to send my story to agents. Unbelievable.

Wrote First Novel in 8 Week Bootcamp; Won Multiple Writing Contests

Dana Lemaster

Seven years ago, Dana began making a transition  away from her career in accounting towards becoming a writer. She started out screenwriting, and found she was a natural–she’s won multiple writing competitions since starting her writing career. Realizing she was a natural-born writer, Dana  decided to take a swing at writing a novel. But this was a big endeavor, and Dana wanted support. That’s why she joined the Writing Gym. In the Writing Gym, Dana succeeded in writing an entire draft of her novel in just 8 weeks, and is well on her way to publication.

Late last night I finished the first draft of my novel. Still can’t quite believe I wrote it in eight weeks. That wouldn’t have been possible without Annalisa Parent and The Writing Gym. I’ve wanted to write this novel for some time. The Writing Gym helped me take those critical first steps toward making my dream a reality.


Fulfilling a 20 Year Old Dream of Finishing a Novel

Steve Cummins

  • Finished writing his novel in eight weeks–after 20 years of no progress
  • Rediscovered the fun and beauty in writing 

Steve Cummins always dreamed of writing a novel. He began his writing journey at the age of 22. But, like many writers, Steve found that he just couldn’t finish a manuscript. Life got in the way. Before he knew it, over twenty years had passed, but he still had not completed his novel. As he woke up every day with no will to write, his confidence continued to drop until he had to accept that perhaps publishing a book in this lifetime was impossible after all. 

Then I met Steve at a publishing class I taught at a Colorado library. He got on a call with me and shared his journey up until this point: his frustrations, sense of loss, and ultimate fear that he would never get this novel written. At the Writing Gym, Steve immediately began to experience massive progress on the same novel he had struggled to finish for two decades. Having fallen in love with writing again, Steve finally started to commit to his novel.

The biggest change is rediscovering the fun of writing, along with believing that ‘yes, I can finish a novel.’ That it’s not just some dream I gave up on years ago.The Writing Gym has helped me to believe that finishing a novel is a dream I can actually realize. It’s just truly so exciting.

What is Writing Success?

Writing Success means a lot of different things to a lot of different people: for some, it can be finding an idea, for others finishing a novel, and yet for another a 6-figure, multiple-book deal with a Big-5 publisher. We at Date With the Muse and The Writing Gym are here to help you live the author lifestyle–whatever that means for you. If you take the writing craft seriously without taking yourself too seriously, and want to be the very best writer you can be, so you can publish time & time again–you’re our kind of people. 

This is a highlight reel of celebrations of success coming out of the Writing Gym.

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