February Meeting Notes

February has always been a tough month for me. It’s cold and snowy. I’m usually ready for winter to be over and struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This month’s Saturday Writer’s group fell on a particularly snowy and cold Saturday and we had only a small group.

I’m far from the only writer to struggle with some form of depression. You can check out my blog about the subject, but it seems that most creative types, artists, writers and actors, struggle with their mood.

So perhaps its no surprise that our small group were all struggling with our mood, our motivation and getting the words on paper. We had all gotten some words down on paper, but no one was satisfied with how many. So it goes.

I have two secret weapons against depression.* The first is the act of writing itself. Writing in a journal or even writing fiction can be a great emotional release and has helped me cope many times over.

The second is my writers group. Non-writers don’t understand the mental work of writing. We start talking about the ups and downs of a writers life and their eyes glaze over. Which is why we need each other. A local writers group is a chance to share the joys, and the struggles of the journey. That’s a big part of what keeps me coming back month after month, even on cold snowy days in February.

*Depression can be a serious illness. Writing and writers groups can help, but they are no substitute for real medical treatment. You can take an online screening for depression here. Or talk to your doctor or a licensed care provider.

These heavy issues didn’t completely consume our meeting, thankfully. We also found plenty of time to talk about writing, story telling and to dissect world building in several movie franchises. To end this blog on a lighter note, we even watched this video filling in a serious plot hole in Star Wars: A New Hope. Enjoy.

January Meeting Notes

What is your favorite book on writing?

We had a newcomer at today’s Saturday Writers Group. We always love seeing new faces.

New writers often ask, how do I learn how to write? How do I plan a novel and get that first draft written? These are big questions.

Luckily better writers than us have tackled them. Our discussion circled around several times to the same question, what is the best book on writing? We all had our favorites. Here are just a few we discussed.

On Writing

By Stephen King

Stephen King is definitely a master story teller and it’s no surprise that his book on writing is a favorite among several of our Saturday Writers.

Zen in the Art of Writing

By Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is another master story teller and his book on writing, Zen and the Art of Writing is another favorite of our members.

Heinlein’s Five Simple Business Rules for Writing

By Dean Wesley Smith

Science fiction author Robert Heinlein made his living writing genre science fiction by following five simple rules. Dean Wesley lays them out in this book.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

By Randy Ingermanson

Wanting more practical advice? Try the Snowflake method.

The first two books on the list may help you with creative. Heinlein’s rules deal with the discipline of writing. The snowflake method deals with the bare bones of how to plot out a story, taking you from a single sentence to a fully drafted novel.

Those are our picks for best books on writing. What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments, or come next month and tell us in person.

Read Between the Vines

A few of the Saturday Writers will be at the Snus Hill Winery on Saturday, September 17 along with many other writers for the event Read Between the Vines. If you enjoy books and wine, come out for a visit!

There will be authors who write science fiction, epic fantasy, historical fiction, romance, children’s fiction, paranormal romance, women’s fiction, urban fantasy, romantic suspense, mystery, thriller, horror, contemporary fiction, poetry, biography, and young adult fiction. Something for everyone!

Protecting Your Creativity – September Meeting Notes

Our September meeting was fabulous! Some of the fun things we talked about:

Keeping your creativity safe from negative or hostile opinions. That can mean not sharing the genre you write in if you suspect people won’t react well to it. Or it can mean keeping the details of a new story private so that comments from even well-meaning listeners don’t distort or harm your vision. Protect and nurture your creativity until it is ready to share with the world!

Rock Your Revisions: A Simple System for Revising Your Novel by Cathy Yardley – Cheryl has been using this for her revision process and has found it really helpful.

Undertale is a role-playing video game where you don’t have to kill anything throughout the entire game. It  has some interesting twists for the player that might get you thinking in different ways.

365 Writing Prompts – A prompt for each day of the year and a terrific tool to help you get into a daily writing habit and inspire your creativity along the way.

The Creative Penn – Joanna Penn blogs about writing and self-publishing and hosts a wonderful podcast where she interviews industry people for inspiration and information on writing and creativity, publishing options, book marketing and creative entrepreneurship.

Jenna Moreci – She writes books and creates videos about writing books. Check out this one on The Nine Weird Habits of Writers. Caution – she uses some profanity.

Kim Chance – another YouTuber who creates videos about writing.

New Release: Heir of Chaos

Congratulations to Daniel Willers, one of our members, who just released his first book Heir of Chaos! He answered a few questions for us about his new fantasy mystery series.

Tell us a little about Heir of Chaos.

It’s about Blake Heira, who is an Eye of Law. He is of priest of the god of justice who is sworn to find the truth. He uses magic the way modern detectives use forensic tools.

This case is about Muriel Stormborn, who is found at the scene after an Inn burns to the ground. He finds out that she is a member of the Druids, a secret society that basically destroyed his country ten years before. When she escapes, he has to figure out where she is and who is provoking them into another conflict.

What was your inspiration for Heir of Chaos?

I created my own fantasy world for my role playing game. So, it seemed natural for me to use that as my setting. I wanted a story that both showed what the world was about and the premise of the characters. I played a lot of “What if” games to come up with ideas. This one started with “What if someone found out there was a war between secret societies”?

What makes it different from other fantasy novels?

There aren’t a lot of traditional/medieval fantasy mystery novels out there. I’ve only seen Tamara Siler Jones’s Dubric Byerly mysteries (which are fantastic). Instead of quests, dark lords, and dragons, I have evidence, interrogation, and dragons.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Determining when it was “done”. Just because you hit the end doesn’t mean the work is complete. Editing, revising, reviewing, re-editing based on feedback, more revision, it could just go on forever if you let it. It’s hard to let it go and move on.

What actor would you like to see play Blake Heira?

Shemar Moore, who plays Derek Morgan on Criminal Minds. He’s a great actor that can pull off the lighter moments, but has the presence to command the screen.

What’s next after Heir of Chaos?

I am working on the 2nd book in the series, Illusion of Truth. In this book, Blake has to deal with the fallout of another Eye of Law committing perjury while trying to find a serial killer no one believes is real. I’m deep into my 2nd draft, which means I’ll be releasing it to my beta readers soon. It will be out this fall.

Heir of Chaos is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

North Iowa Book Bash

A signing event like North Iowa has never seen!!! Come spend the day mixing and mingling with some amazing authors from a multitude of genres. There will be something for everyone.

Attending authors will have signed books available for sale. There will also be a break-out panel session in both the morning and the afternoon for you to get up close and personal with some amazingly talented writers!

Entry fee is $2 – tickets available at the door.

You don’t want to miss it! THREE Kindle Fires will be given away, along with some other great prizes!


? Bethany Lopez
? Pam Godwin
? Maggi Myers
? Fabiola Francisco
? Micki Fredricks
? Rachel Smith
? Ashley Erin
? Karen Fields Carr
? Cheryl Corbin
? Dennis Maulsby
? Jordyn Meryl
? Emma Robuck
? Heidi Hutchinson
? Tamara Siler Jones
? Savannah Verte
? Michael Koogler
? Melissa Christopherson
? K. M. Hutzel
? Blogger Terri LeBlanc – Second Run Reviews
? C.J. Baty
? Christy Pastore
? Bartenn Mills
? Robyn Byrd with Take Wing Virtual Assistant Solutions
? A.R. Miller
? A. M. Wilson
? Terry Maggert
? HJ Bellus
? KT Webb
? Kelly Van Hull
? Cassie Leigh
? Bria Starr – Author
? Alicia Kobishop
? Ella Dominguez
? Jewel E. Ann
? Lori King
? Elle Boon
? K. J. Farnham
? Jed Quinn
? Amalie Silver
? Stacey Lynn
? Teresa Michaels
? Jenna Jacob
? Leia Madison
? Klassy Editing and Writing Services /Matti Snook, Author
? Anita Cox
? Ashlynn Monroe
? Lindsay Lake
? Amanda Maxlyn
? Sidda Lee Rain
? J. A. Fredericks
? Aaron Bunce
? Tina Susedik
? Jennifer Ann
? Marci Boudreaux


Just a week left until ICON 40 arrives. It’s the Cedar Rapids scifi and fantasy convention and if you’ve never been to it, you’re missing out. The organizers put on a great convention with lots to participate in. ICON 40 is this weekend – Oct. 16-18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex.

This year, the Saturday Writers are pleased to be on several panels. You can find us here:

Barnes and Noble Author Signing – Thursday, October 15 • 6:30pm • AR, Rachel

An open event at Barnes & Noble to meet many of the Authors attending ICON 40 – how can you resist a chance to meet them and buy a couple (or more) books?? Come join us at this Pre-ICON 40 event to kick things off!

DreamCON III – Friday, Oct 16 • 1pm • AR, Cheryl, Rachel

DreamCON is a writing workshop for high school and college students running in conjunction with ICON. Participants who are aspiring writers will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with our guests of honor and honorable guests to learn more about the writing craft and the publishing world.

Genre Rules for Book Covers – Friday, Oct 16 • 6pm • Cheryl, Rachel

An interactive presentation on the genre expectations for book covers. Lots of examples of great covers. Can you guess the genre?

Monster Creation – Friday, October 16 • 10:00pm • Rachel

Every few years an author “reinvents” a classic monster. Glittering vampires, anyone? But what goes into reinventing classic monsters. Five authors share how they reinvented the old to make it new again.

Author Meet & Greet – Saturday, Oct 17 • 10:00am • AR, Cheryl, Rachel

There will be over 30 authors will be gathered and waiting for you to ask questions about their craft. This is your opportunity to fawn over your favorite authors and learn about new ones. Buy a book (or two or three), get it signed and watch your to-be-read pile GROW!

Human Rights and the Influence of Science Fiction/Fantasy – Saturday, October 17 • 12:00pm • Rachel

How scifi/fantasy has advanced human rights…a gateway to opening the conversation.

Trials of Writing a Strong (and Good) Female Protagonist – Saturday, October 17 • 3:00pm • AR

Katniss and Tris, Cerci and Daenerys have taken over the airwaves. But are they good examples of strong female characters? Stop by this panel to learn about the pros and cons of writing “strong” female characters and what makes a characteristics make up a “good” female character?

Animals as Plot Devices – Saturday, October 17 • 4:00pm • Rachel

Superman has Kypto. Harry Potter has Hedwig. The Doctor has K-9. Animals play a large role in our personal lives and in the lives of the fictional characters. This panel will take a look at the role of animals as plot devices and how they can serve or destroy a plot.

Is There Such a Thing as Being “Well-Read” in this Day? – Saturday, October 17 • 7:00pm •Rachel

With literally millions of books being written every year, can anyone realistic claim to be well read? What does it mean to be well read? Is it important?  On the same basic topic, are there classics that everyone should read/be familiar with? How important is that we have a shared culture of books? Or should we all just read according to personal preference?

Can I Use That? – Saturday, October 17 • 8:00pm • AR

Learn how to go about finding and using images for your website, blog, or book cover.

Author Reading and QA: Rachel Eliason – Sunday, October 18 • 11:00am • Rachel

Join Rachel Eliason as she reads from her novel, Bear Naked 3: The Hunted, followed by a question/answer session.

Self-Publishing 101 – Sunday, October 18 • 11:00am • Cheryl

You wrote A Thing. Now you want to publish The Thing. What are your options? What are your first steps? Learn the common missteps and tips about self-publishing Your Thing.

How Do I Use That? – Sunday, October 18 • 2:00pm • Rachel

The Internet makes it easy to find images and use them in all kinds of applications. Explore some of the options available for finding images and manipulating them.

Designing a Magic System – Sunday, October 18 • 2:00pm • Cheryl

Creating a magic system that makes sense in your fantasy world can be tricky. Join author Cheryl Corbin as she shares some tips and tricks for creating and maintaining magic system.

Amy and Cheryl at Carroll Con

Another awesome book event! This Saturday, August 8, two of our writers will be in Carroll, Iowa at Carroll Con, a FREE mini-con (Comic Con) hosted by the Carroll Public Library at the Carroll Recreation Center during Carroll Fest.

A.R. Miller, Cheryl Corbin and Rachel Aukes will be speaking at 2 p.m. about writing and publishing.

There will be costumes, cosplay, comic books, artists, food, dancing… a lot of fun! For more information, check out the Carroll Con Facebook page. If you’re in the Carroll area, join the festivities!

Notes from the July Meeting as Rachel Plans to Take Over the Group

With Cheryl and Amy out of town at a book signing it was up to me, Rachel, to run the Saturday Writers meeting. <Insert diabolical laughter here> Bwa-ha-ha. I was thrilled to be in charge — until Dan pointed out that only thing I was in charge of was taking notes. Thanks, Dan.

The group was small but the discussions lively as usual. We had a couple of new members including one published poet. You can check out Dennis Maulsby and his Vietnam War poetry on his webpage.

One of the things we discussed were some of the great masters of psychological suspense, like H. P. Lovecraft and Hitchcock. All of H. P. Lovecraft’s writing is public domain, which means it can be picked up in ebook format for free. They can be read online on the H. P. Lovecraft Archives or or get a copy for the kindle/nook here.

We discussed novel planning for some time. Two of us were huge fans of Scrivener writing software. It allows you to keep everything related to your latest work in progress in one project folder, so nothing gets lost. It has tools for storyboarding and planning, as we as a built in editor, so you can both plan and write your novel in Scrivener. It can even format the end file for print or ebooks. It comes with a generous trial period and they often run Nanowrimo specials. If you do buy, it’s well worth the 49 dollars.

There are many ways to go about planning a novel. Some people like to write by the seat of their pants. Others like to plot and outline their novels. Still others storyboard. Many writers mix and match styles to suit their personality and needs.

Again, there were a couple of us who really like the snowflake method. The snowflake method helps you build the story from the center out, starting with a single sentence and expanding from their until you have enough background to write an entire novel. For Scrivener writers, Caroline Norington has provide an excellent Scrivener template to use with the snowflake method.

Shortly before we broke for the day, we discussed best sellers. Reading is part of learning to write and every writer should read as widely as possible. We might sometimes disparage certain bestselling authors or books, moaning about the state of literature and “how did they succeed?” But it can be worthwhile to suspend our judgement and read these books with a critical eye. Obviously they did something right, otherwise millions of people wouldn’t be buying their books. By identifying those things, we can make ourselves better writers, too.

As fun as the discussion was, we always have room for more writers. Feel free to come down and join us next month. Until then, keep writing.

Fort Dodge Book Fair

Fort Dodge Book FairAnother book fair! This one is at Central Perk and Dessert in Fort Dodge. This Saturday, July 11, there will be 10 authors there with books and coffee and dessert! You can meet Jessica Danow, Rich Griffith, Micki Fredricks, Tamara Jones, Michael Koogler, AR Miller, Jed Quinn, Rachel Smith and Sparkle Abbey and Cheryl Corbin!

If you’re in the area, come see us between 1 and 4 p.m. at Central Perk & Dessert, 14 S 14th St in Fort Dodge.