Thursday, June 14, 2018

How to Write the First Best Chapter

Bringing back one of our old ones, but good ones:  How to Write the First Best Chapter

This class is prerecorded. You may still ask questions in the comments and your peers will do their best to answer. If you don't receive an answer to your question, you may also contact Nikki—she's a wonderful person who would love to answer your question when she has time :)

About this class:
When your reader scopes your first chapter, imagine it like he’s trying to get a date. Does he pick the cute girl studying in the corner, or the gal who announces she’s new in town, has tickets to a hockey game, and is dying to try the local food rave? You know the answer. He goes for the girl who’s ready to live a new story, and yes, he goes for a first chapter that promises the same.

Is it depressing to invent all that coolness and figure out how to show it off in the first 12-20 pages AND set up a story arc, theme, and inner conflict at the same time?

Heck, no! I love first chapters!

First chapters are so full of promise that sometimes readers cheat on their existing books just to ride the first-chapter wave all over again with a new one. (Not me. I break-up first.)

If you like this topic and want more, check out all the free webinars called Fifty First Chapters: Make Yours Stand Out.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Writers: About Those Rules (Grammar, Word Choice, Style)

by Joel Rees

(This is about writing, not religion -- unless your religion is your writing.)

In the New Testament, we often see Jesus calling the Scribes and Pharisees, and hypocrits in general, to repentance. Among their sins, He names the tendency to focus too much on the letter of the law and not enough on the spirit thereof.

In particular, He chastises them for making it harder for others to get into the kingdom of heaven. (See Luke 11, starting around verse 39, but especially 52; also Matthew 23, especially verses 13 and 15.)

But I don't recall much recorded in which He chastised people for bad grammar or bad word choice or unfashionable language style.

In LDS scripture, we see a note that Adam had a perfect language.

No, wait. It says, "pure and undefiled".

Now, that fact was important for us, but the language itself seems not to have been as important. We don't have his language, so we can only speculate as to its nature, particularly, in what way it was pure and undefiled.

Does that mean he used perfect grammar? Or does it mean something else?

Where did the grammar rules for any language currently in use come from? Who wrote our dictionaries and our manuals of style?

We might suspect it, but linguists will tell us it is true. The grammar, dictionaries, Thesaurses, style manuals, all of the tools we have for analyzing what we have written come from our own hands. The language itself predates them.


I am not arguing that skill with language is bad. It helps to be able to be precise when we speak or write. Precision is not evil, unless it is used for evil.

And I admit it, by the way. I am not nearly as precise in my Japanese as I am in my English. Up until just a few days ago, I have been unwilling to attempt to write fiction in Japanese.

I will try to help fellow writers with grammar, word choice, style, structure, and other tools of technique. But I often feel at conflict with myself in the attempt.

Here's why.

Even though linguists call the rules things like "rules of production", those rules are not used in producing speech or rhetoric. They are used in producing analyzable strings of the sorts of symbols that linguists use to analyze.

The best use of grammars and dictionaries is as aids in understanding what we've written.

And manuals of style are artifacts of fashion. They are in constant flux.

If you need a technical report, sure. Use that manual of style. Lots of other reports-kinds of writing work best when they follow some manual of style.

When writing fiction for a closed genre, there are manuals of style. (But they still exist in a state of flux.)


Closed means closed. Here's another hint from linguists. Meaning is not found in reproducing what has been done before as much as it is found when creating something new.

That means that your style as a writer exists in the tension between your efforts to follow the rules and your occasions to break them.

I have tried to help several authors whose grammar and word choice are less than standard. I think of four specific cases where my help seems not to have helped.

I myself was waylaid by a structure Pharisee in a writers group where I participated briefly last year --

My first novel did not need a hook in the first chapter. It was not intended to be a bestseller. An ordinary sort of hook will get in the way of that story. Yet, I let that (well-intentioned, I think) more experienced writer induce me to get a lot of practice writing myself in circles, trying to get that hook into place.

Practice is practice, and is not completely useless, but I needed to be working on other things by now, and that novel is not yet finished. The delay is in no small part caused by my spending too much time focusing on the wrong things. I was trying to put a hook in when I needed to be fixing the metastructure.

And this is where several of my friends are now stuck. They are focused on hooks, grammar, word choice, style, flow, and other such things when they need to be focusing on other things. Or, perhaps, taking a break and reading, or writing something else, or getting out into the real world, so they can come back and look with fresh eyes.

Some of them need to do what I ultimately did -- throw several months of edits in the junk pile and go back to a previous version from before they started listening to the wrong advice. One, in particular, may need to throw multiple months of edits in that junk pile and just publish the novel.

With its warts.

And I'm not actually convinced that my efforts on my first novel to avoid misleading people by my references to the Church I belong to are completely necessary. I may still be doing too much re-write instead of just clearing a bunch of unnecessary linkage from my first novel, where it sits in one of my blogs.

With its warts and non-standard features and love handles and such.

I was raised on books that didn't make the best-seller list. I don't remember some of their names. The grammar was wrong in many, although it tended to be consistent.

I say, wrong. I should say, non-standard, because there is no wrong grammar without context, and a novel is its own context.

So, what am I saying?

Writers, do not fear Microsoft's grammar checker.

Turn off the spelling checker, too. Only run the spelling checker once a day or so, and don't believe everything it tells you.

Keep the mechanical grammar checker turned off.

Emphasize that. You do not want your grammar sounding like it was written by a cookie-cutter.

Are you in a panic? Settle down. Microsoft is a company that claims to sell 80-20 solutions. Even if those claims were accurate, that's twenty percent wrong. But it's more like 20-80 and a lot of bluster. These guys are salescrew. What they sell is confidence.

You know, the Music Man, but with no heart.

What you need is confidence, not grammar checkers. Sure, your first novel may not be the best. You can polish it a bit, but there comes a point where you improve more by leaving it behind and writing the next one.

Why? Because the next one allows you to build new skills, and some of those are the skills you need to get that first one polished right.

(Don't be afraid to come back in six months or six decades and see what you can do with the ones you left behind. Arthur C. Clarke did that with Against the Fall of Night and produced The City and the Stars. I personally prefer the former, but both are good SF novels, and he thought the latter told the story better according to his older self's point of view.)

So you don't have the confidence? What instead?

If you can find a group of readers (beta readers is a well-used term right now, critique group is another) who can help you in useful ways without encouraging you to chase your tail, such a group can be useful. If they don't help you with the confidence after a little while, thank them and find new people to help.

Prayer helps, if you know God. If you don't know God or don't believe, meditation and listening to your heart is another way to describe it.

It's not wrong to learn the rules, but you must write new stuff to learn the rules better than you know them now. (This rant is too long, or I'd explain that. But it's another mathematical principle.)

The reason you write is to communicate something meaningful to people. Rules can only help about twenty percent of the way. The rest is the work you put into getting the message into the media.

Taken from Joel's blog

I was always that guy that never quite fit in, and no one could understand why. Studying was easy. Figuring out what teachers wanted was no problem. Figuring out what managers and customers want is still something I have a hard time with.

Took early entry calculus at Odessa College for fun. Worked at Texas Instruments fixing calculators before my mission. Got lost in computer programming at Odessa College after my mission. Tried to escape from information science at BYU, but I locked horns with physics and biology professors and ended up back in computer science.

Dropped out of school to trying to fix all the problems in the computer industry in the mid-1980s.

Met my wife when I was helping my aunt with Personal Ancestral File on MS Windows 3. My wife motivated me to finish my bachelors, and then we moved to Japan, figuring I could teach English for a couple of years. Worked in computers for ten years before switching to be a glorified teaching assistant for another ten or so years. Found out too late I was too old to be certified as a real teacher in Japan.

Now it’s write or die. Too old to do anything else.

Economics 101, a Novel

Economics starts with two good people on a desert island.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cutting the Dead Weight

by Kasey Q. Tross

In my quest for writing mastery (ha), I have been reading a book called Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway. What I found enlightening about this book was that she illustrated each point of narrative craft (like point-of-view, metaphor, theme, etc.) with short stories.

I have never been too familiar with the short story form—well, not since high school, anyway—and so this was good for me. I like how it gave me a good microcosm of what a book should be, and while it seems counterintuitive, seeing what went into those short stories made writing a novel seem easy. Why, you ask? Because, as I learned as I read these watertight little story ships, like any load in a seafaring vessel, every word must be efficient and pull its own weight or it gets tossed overboard.

After I'd spent an afternoon reading short stories, I'd go back to my novel and suddenly see all of these words lazily taking up space while doing no work and adding no value to my story. At one point I turned to my husband (the non-reader) and said, "My book sure does have a lot of superfluous language."

He said, "What?"

I said, "My book has a lot of extra words."

He said, "Oh."

Here are a few examples for you:

1. My book starts with the character in a dream (I KNOW it's cliche, but there is an exception to every rule and I swear this one works! At least until I think of something better...) in which she is with her beloved horse, Mosby. When she wakes up, she realizes she's living a nightmare: Mosby is gone, and not only gone, but being put up for auction where she's pretty sure he's going to get bought by a meat market man and slaughtered. Horrifying, right? Anyway, originally I had written something like, "Then I remembered: the divorce. The move to Stonemill, to this ramshackle old house left to mom by her hermit uncle that had died. And Mosby- Mosby was gone."

Well, I went back over that paragraph- I knew when I'd written it that it wasn't as tight as I wanted it to be- and I immediately noticed the stowaways: everything before "Mosby..." I knew that cutting that out would get to the heart of the matter- but wait! That's important info for the reader to have! They need context! What if they didn't know? Well, another important thing I've learned is that sometimes it's good for the reader to not know everything right away. All they really needed to know was that Mosby was gone, and that it is heartbreaking for my main character, and as I glanced over the rest of my first chapter, I realized that most of the rest of that information was either not essential enough to know right away (and could come out later) or could be inferred from other details.

2. One of those other details I added in to emphasize the fact that they had literally JUST moved into this house was the sentence, "I grabbed my phone from off the moving box that was serving as a nightstand next to my bed."

Can you catch the stowaway?

Here's a hint: Do people typically have nightstands- or items serving as nightstands- anywhere other than next to their beds? 

Yep, that pointless preposition walked the plank. Arrr.

3. Was, was, was. What is my obsession with this word? A word of caution: if you're seeing the word "was" popping up a lot in your work, you have fallen victim to the passive voice.* This is like punching a hole in your ship, because every "was" sucks the life out of your story and dragging it down to the fathomless deep!

Here's an example I found: "the grass was waving"

Why? Why not, "the grass waved" or, "the waving grass [insert something it did here]."

Anytime you can give the noun in your sentence something to actively DO rather than just experience, it literally- well, maybe not literally, but literaturely (yes I just made that up)- brings it to life.

"The paint was peeling off the house in long strips."

"The paint peeled off the house in long strips."

"The long strips of peeling paint littered the grass in front of the house like confetti."

Use the find function in your word processing program and plug all those "was" leaks!

Finally, here's an easy, hopefully no-brainer one for you:

"I ambled slowly down the driveway."

*eyeroll at my own ineptness as a writer*  *bangs head on computer keyboard*

Seriously, Kasey, have you ever seen anyone amble quickly down a driveway??

But this actually brings up two points: first, obviously don't use an adverb on a verb that already implies what the adverb says. People can't amble quickly, sprint slowly, or scream softly. Just sayin'.

Next, if you're saying things like, "I walked slowly," then zero in on that adverb and look at the verb preceding it. Chances are you included the adverb because the verb wasn't strong enough to speak for itself. Don't give verbs adverb babysitters! Make them grow up! Give them responsibility! If your character walked slowly, then think of a verb for walked slowly: "ambled," "strolled," "dragged my feet," etc. Just axe the adverbs already! Toss the scurvy scallywags to the fishes! Yo-ho-ho and a bottle o' rum!

So take a look at your writing and smoke out the stowaways, the stuff that isn't pulling its weight in your story:

1. Unnecessary details that can be left as mysteries for the reader or are inferred by other details (readers like this- it makes them feel smart).
2. Prepositions and other useless descriptors that are already implied.
3. Passive voice (WAS).
4. Babysitting adverbs.

Then give 'em the ol' heave-ho! Hang 'em by the yardarms!

Okay, I'm done with the pirate ship analogy now, me hearties (seriously, that was the last one, promise).

*Yes, I know I wrote that sentence in the passive voice. Did I mention I also learned about dramatic irony? ;-)

Kasey Q. Tross works as a freelance writer and a stay-at-home mom of four, and is happy that the two jobs play well together. She enjoys eating far too much chocolate and running 5k's and 10k's to hide the evidence of said chocolate consumption. She has been published in the Friend Magazine, Reaching New Heights magazine, and some anthologies here and there. She hopes to someday have one of her several novels-in-progress finished and published.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Beta Reading and Unpolished Gems

by Joel Rees

I've spent much of this past Golden Week vacation, more time than I could afford, really, beta reading for friends from the LDS Beta Readers writers' group.

One manuscript was a billionaire romance in early beta condition. It was very entertaining, and the story itself was rather well laid out. My primary suggestion was that I wished the pace had been slower. But slowing it down would require altering the premise significantly, potentially making it less interesting. Anyway, this author is experienced, and I am confident she will get this one on the market in good shape and good order.

Another was a tale of leprechauns, witches, dragons, and some other more exotic creatures, from a less established author. The tale was engaging and even somewhat instructive. It was significantly better than most of the fantasy that gets turned into published anime. I am procrastinating the feedback because I like the story and the execution, but I know I have to tell the author it's not very marketable as it is. I want the author to be able to bring this book to publication.

A third was a Regency period romance, a tale of innocent deception in the face of sibling rivalries that go too far. It is in a close-to-period vernacular, but the reader's modern vernacular shows through at distracting points. I like the story and the layout, but the execution gets in the way a little. And I am procrastinating this one, as well, although I think I know what to focus on, to encourage the author to finish.

I hope, eventually, to be able to post reviews of the published versions of these (and many others that I have beta-read since joining this group). They have great potential.

These are beta level, so execution issues (grammar, word choice, phrasing, some minor structure issues, etc.) are to be expected. This is always something of a quandary, because we have the instinct to offer editing services and opinions that the author has not requested, and that we cannot afford to give. And if we start offering unsolicited editing, it's easy to start trying to re-write.

But rewriting somebody else's work without permission is rather a breach of ettiquette and even a discourtesy. (Publishing such rewrites could even constitute a crime against copyright law, is how discourteous.)

Beta reading is a privilege with accompanying responsibility.

Now, if you understand the Japanese principle of wabi-sabi, you might understand my following comments on the privilege:

These are all unpolished gems. Very rarely do I get to do a beta read of a manuscript that does not need editing. Often, the various errors of execution make it difficult to get started into a story.

But once you get into the flow of the author's story, the rhythm of the author's voice, the story itself comes into focus, and finishing the manuscript is usually a pleasure.

Preparing a manuscript for market almost always requires "cleaning out" the rougher aspects of the author's modes of expression. Sometimes it requires cleaning out substantial parts of the author's vision for the story, and worse.

Editing a manuscript to make it marketable requires denaturing the story.

Think how it would be if all restaurant food were subjected to the same marketing processes as the McDonalds' menu.

Do I need to map this allegory? No? You do see it, right?

Sometimes, it almost breaks my heart to beta-read. Not because the writing is bad. I haven't yet seen a manuscript that is that bad, though I have seen some that need a lot of work.

Now editing can be done with light hand. Not all edited works are comparable to McDonalds' food. But market forces tend to motivate the heavier hand more often than not.

That means that, even if you do get a chance to read the novels I have beta read this week, you will not see the rough beauty I see. It will probably be polished and palatable -- easy to read. And it may have lost significant portions of the meaning that I enjoyed reading in them.

Sometimes, the difference I expect almost breaks my heart.

Do I recommend joining a beta readers group? It depends. They do require time -- and learning to read through rough writing.

Taken from Joel's blog

I was always that guy that never quite fit in, and no one could understand why. Studying was easy. Figuring out what teachers wanted was no problem. Figuring out what managers and customers want is still something I have a hard time with.

Took early entry calculus at Odessa College for fun. Worked at Texas Instruments fixing calculators before my mission. Got lost in computer programming at Odessa College after my mission. Tried to escape from information science at BYU, but I locked horns with physics and biology professors and ended up back in computer science.

Dropped out of school to trying to fix all the problems in the computer industry in the mid-1980s.

Met my wife when I was helping my aunt with Personal Ancestral File on MS Windows 3. My wife motivated me to finish my bachelors, and then we moved to Japan, figuring I could teach English for a couple of years. Worked in computers for ten years before switching to be a glorified teaching assistant for another ten or so years. Found out too late I was too old to be certified as a real teacher in Japan.

Now it’s write or die. Too old to do anything else.

Economics 101, a Novel

Economics starts with two good people on a desert island.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


by Lisa Rector

I don’t know about you, but when the protagonist makes the ultimate sacrifice, that grabs me as a reader. That cements me to the character and into the story. As the character wrestles with making the choice, depth is added to the story and the character. And in the end, the sacrifice is what makes the protagonist a hero.

How can we make our protagonist choose the ultimate sacrifice in our writing?

One example of sacrifice a character has to make is in the TV series Moonlight. Vampire private eye Mick St. John has finally become human, and he no longer has his supernatural strength. He’s mortal. He could die. His beloved Beth, a human, is kidnapped. Her life is in danger, and Mick cares about her more than anything in the world. The only way he can save her is by becoming a vampire again, the one thing he despises most. Mick would give anything to stay human, but Beth is more important to him than his humanity. He makes the choice to become a vampire again, and we see that emotion when, in anguish, he slams his friend against the wall and shouts, “They’ve got my Beth!”

Mick convinces his vampire bud Joseph to bite him. As the camera zooms in on Mick as Joseph comes in for the bite, the look on Mick’s face says it all—he just made the ultimate sacrifice—to save someone else. Fans love this! It’s heartbreaking. And it makes a gripping scene.

As a writer, ask yourself—What ultimate sacrifice might the protagonist make to save someone else? What is the biggest deal, the worst thing he could do to himself for the sake of another? Who or what is so important that the protagonist would make this sacrifice? Now set up your story so the protagonist will have a choice to make. And the options aren’t good. The character is in a tough spot—stuck between a bad option and a worse option. Now ask—What series of events will bring your protagonist to the decision that will have to be made? Figuring this out will take some plotting, but the results will be worth the time.

Going back to the sacrifice. What are some things the protagonist might sacrifice? It might be his humanity. The trust of someone he loves so he can be honest with them. Maybe his sacrifice pulls him into a dark place, making him a person he loathes, or his dark side emerges because of his actions, but for the character, the sacrifice would be worth it as long as the loved one is safe. (Think Anikan in Star Wars.) The protagonist might give his life for another, (but death isn’t always the worst fate.)

Whatever the sacrifice, make the choice agonizing. Make the stakes high. Make repercussions follow. The choice has to be so tortured and life changing that the reader will feel it too, especially if the setup in the beginning of the novel is done right and the character is someone the reader is invested in.

Lisa Rector is a Maryland native and can’t imagine living anywhere else. A mountain girl at heart, every so often, she drifts down to the coast and relishes the calming beach breezes.

She married her high school sweetheart for time and all eternity in the Washington D.C. Temple. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom for her two beautiful daughters, she enjoyed a short stint as a labor and delivery nurse. This tends to be the reason there’s always a pregnant character in her novels. In addition to her love of writing, her passions are gardening, yoga, and her faith in Jesus Christ. Her favorite delights are decadent homemade cakes, cookies, or brownies—never store-bought.

Lisa has four published romantic fantasy novels in The Emrys Chronicles, an ingenious look at the power of divine light inside immortals and humans, the ability to harness the energy, and the choices a person must make when darkness interferes. With a contemporary paranormal romance called Switching Lives and a paranormal romance called My Vampire, Lisa opened her writing world to explorations of the supernatural. She also has a short story in the romance anthology Love Undefined, where she dares to dabble with Scottish brogue. Her current pursuits include various short stories in multiple genres, along with a contemporary romance. You can find her novels on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

My Vampire

Vampires, creatures of darkness.
Their favorite treats… storm sprites.

The blood of a storm sprite makes an intoxicating elixir for most supernatural beings, including vampires. After Killian, a reclusive vampire, comes across Sasha, a rare storm sprite, and saves her life, they develop an unlikely friendship. Because of his constant cravings for her blood, Killian keeps his distance while protecting Sasha from the supernaturals hungering for her. But as his behaviors change and he draws closer, Sasha’s no longer sure of his motivations. One day his cravings will become too much.

When a woman’s brutal murder spirals a hunt for an amulet that has demonic powers, Sasha and Killian are stuck between the feuding demons and vampires who are determined to possess the amulet’s secrets. Sasha must find the amulet for her protection—before she ends up on the wrong end of a demon’s blade, or worse, has her throat ripped out by the vampire she calls hers.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Mirror Twin Distractions

by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Living with ADD isn’t easy and being a writer and living with ADD can be the pits. I think my life would be a whole lot easier if I didn’t have to deal with ADD.

More than once this last week I caught myself getting distracted from what I was doing each time I took a break to use the facilities or get more water. At some point or other I would notice something that needed done, or remember something I was going to do, and, instead of a couple minutes away from my computer I’d be more like twenty or longer, i.e. long enough the thing went to sleep.

But if that weren’t bad enough, I couldn’t concentrate on one manuscript! I’d get thinking about changes I needed to make on my science fiction series and open it up only to have my brain switch gears to one of two other incomplete novels I have and some changes or additions I need to make to them. Except if I opened either of those, my brain would switch back to the sci-fi.

In other words, I never got much of anything done even though my brain was actively working on my various stories – I doubt anyone could write about A and B when their brain was thinking about X and Y. I personally found it disconcerting when I had the story about A and B open, and suddenly my brain had the story about X and Y running through my thoughts and I very nearly inserted the new details for X and Y’s story into A and B’s story, which would have been more than a little weird since one is sci-fi and the other a contemporary romance. 
And adding to my problems with concentrating on just one story was my problems with sticking to just one task until I was done. More than once I caught myself stopping in the middle of the room, on my way back from the bathroom, trying to remember what I was going to do next, and when I did remember something to do, I’d start doing it and suddenly remember what I’d been doing before I got up, either that or I’d go back to what I’d been doing and I'd suddenly remember that I had something else I was going to do before I got back to it.

More than once it was my empty stomach or water bottle which finally reminded what I was going to do before returning to my computer.

None of which helped me because while I realized all sorts of tweaks that needed done to three different manuscripts this past week, I didn’t get a whole lot done toward actually executing any of those changes.

On the other hand, Konnie actually managed to get some writing done this last week either, more than I did anyway, which for her is an improvement, but let’s face it, her life is so much busier than mine, which is why she’s usually the one who doesn’t get a lot of writing done in a week.

Time zone wise I’m an hour earlier than Konnie is, but she beats me up every morning, because she’s up before the crack of dawn, whereas I sleep in. Typically, when most people are heading out the door for the day, I’m just crawling out of bed, while Konnie was heading out the door around the time most people are getting up in the morning, and she’s constantly busy from the moment she gets up in the morning until she finally shuts off her computer and goes to sleep each night.

I spend the majority of my time around the house, with the only noise being when I turn on the TV or the stereo. At Konnie’s house, noise erupts anytime someone so much as walks past the house. With, I think the current count is five, dogs I have a tendency to cut phone calls with my sister short because that pack started barking again.

Konnie on the other hand lives in that racket, and lives with her family, so there is always something going on, and always people talking or doing something, and it only gets quiet around there after like eleven o’clock at night, but their mornings start around four-thirty or five. And she not only works in all that chaos, she’s in charge of it!

So, while I don’t get a lot of writing done because my brain won’t focus on one project she doesn’t get a lot of writing done because her family requires so much of her attention.

As kids, living together, our lives were very similar, but things changed because we now live such different lives as adults.

Happy writing everyone. 😊

I was born in Blackfoot Idaho just six minutes after my twin sister (but she'll refute she's old). We are mirror twins, we are a lot alike, but also a lot different, though we both write. I have been writing full time for some years now but haven't sale anything beyond one poem -- yet. I'm not giving up.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Building Characters and Writing a Compelling Dialogue

Third post in our revisiting our Online Writer's Conference series.

by Laura Palmer

Join author L. Palmer on an adventure deep into the world of building characters.
This session includes quick notes on character roles, questions to ask yourself as an author, and exploring the relationships between characters. It also includes info on dialogue tags and building smooth dialogue.

About Laura Palmer:
In between exploring the worlds within pages, L. Palmer lives among the mountains of Utah and attends graduate school at Brigham Young University. She developed her imagination and adventure skills through growing up in Girl Scouts, working for ten years at resident summer camps, teaching high school English, attending and working at the University of California Santa Barbara, and reading great books of fantasy and magic.

L. Palmer is well-versed in dialogue, murdering darlings, and developing likable characters. She writes musings on writing and pop culture on her blog:, which grew from 80 followers to 2,000 in two years. Her first book, The True Bride and the Shoemaker, was published June 2015 and is just the beginning of many tales to come.