Workshop: How To Write Your Novel In Two Weeks

Any writers living in the Bay Area will be interested in this workshop

Saturday, March 28, 2015

How To Write Your Novel In Two Weeks

LGSR WorkshopDiscover techniques to write fast and get your first draft written in two weeks.  Learn how to prepare for the two-week event, how to execute during the two weeks, and how to fine-tune your masterpiece.

For beginners or pros, this is an exciting and motivating workshop that will help you improve your storytelling skills.  Don’t waste years trying to get your novel written.  Learn secrets to avoiding writer’s block and write your novel once and for all!

For more information or to register, click here.

Instructor: Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. She is the writer and director of four short films and two micro-documentaries. Avalon Books published Victoria’s fiction debut, The Doctor’s Dilemma, in 2011 (A 2012 Bookseller’s Best double finalist). McGraw-Hill and General Publishing Group published her in non-fiction. In 2012 Victoria entered the indie publishing arena with a collection of romance short stories and in 2014 a how-to book on fiction writing techniques. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies.

Balancing Act for Writers

Do you ever feel like you are standing on an unsteady surface trying to balance what’s in your heart versus what’s in your brain? I know you do! I can’t be the only who feels this way sometimes. I believe this balancing act is especially tricky for writers because we deal with matters of the heart (emotions) in our writing and we also think (analyze and create) while we’re writing. Some of us have a demanding internal editor looking over our shoulder and we need to find ways to keep that editor away while we’re spilling our hearts out. I say, shake that editor off and keep going… keep writing. Who was it that said write with your heart and edit with your brain? I don’t remember, but these are wise words. They suggest a great way to keep your balance.

balancing act for writers by Victoria M. Johnson

Photo by John Salvino

I teach writing classes a few times throughout the year and one thing I impress upon my students is the idea of not censuring the muse and completely freeing their creativity. They accomplish this by giving themselves permission to write a crummy first draft. It takes practice but eventually they stop editing as they create. It’s a wonderful thing to get to that point and results in deep explorations, wonderful surprises, and more writing. Of course our first drafts need editing eventually, but the brain can work that out later. In your first drafts let the heart say what the heart wants to say. It’s a balancing act that we as writers can learn and enjoy rather than struggle with.



How To Write Your Novel In Two Weeks!

New Workshop by Victoria M. Johnson

Register online NOW!

How To Write Your Novel In Two Weeks! workshop by Victoria M. Johnson

Register online NOW! 

SATURDAY, March 29, 2014


Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker, both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries, and she served as assistant director on a feature length horror film. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101 (McGraw-Hill), and a collection of short stories as an independent publisher. Her poetry, published this year, appears in the online journal, When Women Waken, and two print anthologies, Red Wheelbarrow and Song of Los Gatos. Victoria is an energetic speaker at workshops and conferences, and she hosts a blogtalk radio show.

Discover techniques to write fast and get your first draft written in two weeks.  Learn how to prepare for the two-week event, how to execute during the two weeks, and how to fine-tune your masterpiece.  For beginners or pros, this is an exciting and motivating workshop that will help you improve your storytelling skills.  Don’t waste years trying to get your novel written.  Learn secrets to avoiding writer’s block and write your novel once and for all! Registration is $64 and small materials fee.

What Will You Do With Your Ten Minutes?

When was the last time you did nothing?  Ah-ha.  You can’t remember that far back, can you?  Neither could I.  But one day I realized I’d been on this fast mode for so many years that I didn’t know how to slow down.  But if we’re to write creatively we need that down time.  We need to disconnect and enjoy the moment every once in awhile.  If your life is as hectic as mine, I know how difficult it is to truly take a break and live in the moment.  Taking a break sounds too simple a solution but it is the key to stress reduction and living a fulfilling life.  Try carving out a little time for yourself: for your writing, your imagination, and your well-being.  Just a few moments a day is a good start.  Did you know there are 1,440 minutes in a day?  Take ten for yourself.  Enjoy the sunshine.  Take a quick walk.  Admire a painting.  Or better yet, do nothing.  Just relax and clear your mind.  Since I started this practice I feel much more relaxed and more productive.  I hope you’ll try it.  Once you get into the habit of taking ten minutes off each day you’ll find many benefits.  You’ll gain a revitalized spirit with just a bit more energy for your writing.  In case you need more coaxing, here’s a wonderful poster with 50 great ideas for taking a break.  For a free printable copy of the poster below, visit author Karen Horneffer-Ginter’s Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit website. And here’s a great article, Living In The Moment, that includes tips for making every moment count.  The author suggests we’ll feel more gratitude and enjoyment of life.  I earnestly agree.  What will you do with your ten minutes?

What Will You Do With Your Ten Minutes? by Victoria M. Johnson

What Will You Do With Your Ten Minutes?


Power of Three guest post by Marjorie Bicknell Johnson

Power of Three

No, not a Roman triumvirate; not 3, 9, 27, 81; and not the witches in Macbeth—but the power of three in writing.

The “power of three” in writing means using a series of three words, phrases, or ideas. Using a series of three helps the reader understand what you are writing, helps him or her organize the information mentally, and creates a sense of urgency. Using a series of more than three becomes cumbersome and less easy to understand. Using a series of two ideas simply doesn’t have the same impact.

The number three has a magical importance in cultural and spiritual practices around the world. It’s no accident that the number three is pervasive throughout some of our greatest stories, fairy tales, and myths. It’s no coincidence that some of the most famous quotes throughout history are structured in three parts. It’s no surprise that the rule of three works wonders in the world of comedy—set-up, anticipation, and punch line.

It all comes down to the way we process information. While I don’t pretend to understand why, the brain seems to be hard-wired to group information in threes. We have become proficient at pattern recognition, and three is the smallest number of elements that can form a pattern. Comedians exploit the way our minds perceive expected patterns to throw the audience off track—and make us laugh.

Information presented in groups of three sticks in our heads better than other clusters of items. Orators use the power of three: “Blood, sweat, and tears”; “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”; “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Politicians know the rule of three: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”; “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish with my country.” Real estate has “Location, location, location”; safety posters advise, “Stop, look, and listen;” movie titles include “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.”

Things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. Have you ever wondered

  • What the three little pigs, Goldilocks and the three bears, and the three wise men have in common?
  • Why the three-act structure is the dominant approach to screenwriting?
  • Why three bullet points are more effective than two or four?

Think in terms of three when crafting your content, and you’ll likely end up with a more engaging outcome. If at first you don’t succeed, remember—the third time’s the charm.

Power of Three guest post by Marjorie Bicknell JohnsonBio: Marjorie Bicknell Johnson has a master’s degree in mathematics and taught high school mathematics for thirty years. Her 89 mathematics research papers on topics in number theory—recursive sequences; sequences within Pascal’s triangle; and the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio—have appeared in several academic journals. She has served on the editorial board of the Fibonacci Quarterly since 1963. But research related to Fibonacci numbers doesn’t make good cocktail party conversation, so she started the new century by joining a creative writing class to learn how to write a good story.

Marjorie and her husband Frank, both pilots, live near San Francisco. Marjorie drew upon her experiences as a pilot to write Bird Watcher: A Novel. While visiting Mayan ruins with archeologists, she found that “really good story,” the basis for Jaguar Princess: The Last Maya Shaman. The book was carefully researched and edited; in fact, it placed in the top 50 out of 5000 entries in the young adult division of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. Both books are available on Amazon. Visit Marjorie’s website at:

Bird Watcher by Marjorie Johnson   Jaguar Princess by Marjorie Bicknell Johnson


Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Beate Boeker

Creative Spaces

My workspace is one of the smallest and least impressive looking author offices you can imagine. It’s in the middle of the living room, and while writing, I’m reclining in a loom armchair with my feet up on a multi-cushioned stool, lifting my legs high. My keyboard is on my lap, and as I tend to freeze easily, I’m usually swathed in one to three extra blankets, with the occasional curl sticking out. Not that it’s always freezing in Germany, where I live, but it’s always good to have an extra blanket handy! I love that writing position and feel that it’s important for my health because I sit in an office all day long and all that sitting is not good. At least, while it’s technically still sitting, this gives me a bit of variation. It also makes me feel very relaxed. Basically, I don’t like to sit on chairs. I much prefer to sit on the floor!

My flat screen is fixed with a bracket to the wall, and I can swivel it around, depending on the jobs I do. When writing a novel, I turn it so that it looks more like a book. In doing so, I can make the print very large and still see a lot of text (which is necessary because I’m far away from the monitor due to my reclining position!).

Another essential is a mug with green tea next to me. I easily down half a gallon while writing without noticing it. My somewhat antique wooden desk is only there to hold my mug and my mouse and a notebook. It has roughly the size of a standard towel and boasts a tiny, overstuffed drawer. I like that it’s small because I don’t work well in cluttered surroundings, and I’ve learned that it’s easier to keep a small place under control than a large one. 😉

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Beate Boeker

German author Beate Boeker’s creative writing space is in the middle of her living room.

Usually, people say they can’t work when surrounded by people, but I like it because it makes me feel that I’m still with my family and not shut apart from them. I read them excerpts, discuss my plots and just continue when any immediate emergency (like finding those very important trousers or judging a brand-new drawing) is dealt with. It’s only when I’m writing very touching scenes that I need silence around me. I never listen to music while I write because music changes my mood dramatically, and that would reflect in the novel.

As to my books, I’m writing romances and cozy mysteries with mischief and humor and am just busy plotting the fourth novel in the series Temptation in Florence. The second novel (Charmer’s Death) will be free May 15 – 19, but if you want to start at the beginning, here’s the link to Amazon for the first, Delayed Death.

The most important advice I would give to any aspiring author: Learn the craft from professionals, and then, persevere. Never give up. It takes years to learn any other job, so give yourself time. While writing, little voices will tell you that it’s all crap, all boring, and that nobody will ever want to read this. Don’t listen. Write on. The little voices are wrong, and if you take advice from professional writers, your writing will shine one day.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Beate BoekerBio:  Beate Boeker is a traditionally published author since 2008 and has 11 novels and short stories online available. Some of them were shortlisted for the Golden Quill Contest, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the “best indie books of 2012” contest.

Beate is a marketing manager by day and a writer by night. She has a degree in International Business Administration and her daily experience in marketing continuously provides her with a wide range of fodder for her novels, be it hilarious or cynical.

Widely traveled, she speaks German (her mother language), English, French and Italian fluently and lives in the North of Germany together with her husband and daughter.

While ‘Boeker’ means ‘books’ in a German dialect, her first name Beate can be translated as ‘Happy’ . . . and with a name that reads ‘Happy Books’, what else could she do but write novels with a happy end?

Although being German, she has chosen to write in English because she appreciates the professional support and training opportunities a writer can find in the US.  Contact Beate Boeker on her Website, Facebook page, Amazon author page, Goodreads author page, and on Twitter: @BeateBoeker

Also, check out Beate’s Book Trailer.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Beate Boeker

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Jimin Han

Creative Spaces

Glass Room

I remember the starkness of the walls in a new house, the sounds of night those first days in a new place. I remember being afraid of what I couldn’t see in the dark and worried about what I would see the next morning in the faces of the new people I would meet. I had my parents, my brothers, an aunt and uncle and cousins who lived with us from time to time and whom we lived with at other times, a grandfather, my father’s friends from Korea. They came and went in various configurations, my aunt and uncle and cousins being the most constant even after they moved permanently away because I would visit them during summers. My most vivid memories are of mornings when I’d wake to the smell of ramen cooking in the kitchen. This is from the early Jamestown period, when it was my brothers, my parents and I. We had a kitchen box, a square brown box marked clearly in large hangul: kitchen. It didn’t go with the moving truck. It was packed in the car with us alongside the other marked box that contained our bedding. The kitchen box had five bowls (one for each of us), one large stainless steel pot, chopsticks and spoons. It would take me a while, those first mornings when I initially opened my eyes to remember where I was, and then I’d find my way to the kitchen where my mother commandeered the stove, the sink, the cupboards, the windows. The kitchen table was set with bowls and chopsticks, ramen waiting for us. I remember she filled the kitchen with her optimism, her hopefulness. It was hard not to believe that we hadn’t always lived there.

I can count most of them, all the places I lived before I left my family for college. My uncle’s house in Seoul, my grandmother’s house in Seoul, a house in Daejun, another house in Seoul, an apartment in Brooklyn, a mental hospital in Providence, a house in Providence, a second floor apartment in Providence, an apartment in Dayton, a house in Jamestown (Myrtle Street), another house in Jamestown (East Virginia Boulevard), another house in Jamestown (Maple Street), another house in Jamestown (Camp Street), a last house in Jamestown (Whitehill Avenue). My parents were always moving. They continued to move after I left for college. Some of the moves necessitated by finances, some of the moves necessitated by a quest my father had that I didn’t understand.

Years older now, old enough to make my own home, I have my own house. My children have known this same house for most of their young lives. I’ve chosen steadiness where I can, rooted myself to a single house, a permanent address. But something lingers from my moving days. I write in a small temporary room that’s mostly empty. I call it anyone’s room. The walls are blank. There is a bed in case someone comes to visit. In a pinch I can clear out, let a guest feel at home. The desk is a polished teak ellipse. It’s large enough for my laptop and a few notebooks. It faces a blank, white wall away from the casement window that looks out into a yard where a crab apple tree loads up with blossoms in the spring and beyond that a neighbor’s pasture where a horse grazes.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Jimin Han

After a life of moving, Jimin Han finally has a permanent “temporary” writing space.

When the writing isn’t going well, when I feel I’m failing, when the silence is paralyzing, I worry. I imagine crowding this room with things from my life for encouragement. A small painted rock the size of my hand, a quartz donkey figurine, a pale blue 19th century pill box, books that line the family room outside this room, paintings, photos of my children, my husband, my parents, my friends, my students, life that calls and calls to me. When the writing isn’t going well, I open the second door in my anyone’s room, the one behind my chair, and look at the dirt floor, look up at the broken slats of the wooden roof. Somewhere up there will be a room for me. Someday, a stair to it. The opposite of emptiness. A glass room. I have drawings of it. I have plans.

But for now and for years to come in reality, my small temporary blank room is all I have. All I might ever have. And I can’t say I’m unhappy with it. I know where I am. There is something that comes to this emptiness, something I am forced to make of it, make from it. I write and read and consider things in this place. I have always been here. My anyone’s room. Blank walls, blank canvas, silence or newness of sound, possibility. An unclaimed space. Something to work with.  Something that asks to be claimed, for the duration of the day, night, story, poem, essay.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Jimin HanBio:

Jimin Han teaches at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and lives outside New York City with her husband and children. Additional work of hers may be found in a variety of places, including NPR’s “Weekend America,” The,, eChook’s memoir app, Kartika Review and The Nuyorasian Anthology. She’s on twitter, @jiminhanwriter, and she blogs at Tumblr.

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Christy Birmingham

Creative Spaces

Ah yes, creativity.

I have come a long way since I played with my dolls as a young girl as I taught them what I had learned that day at school.

Today, I am proud to call myself a freelance writer and an entrepreneur. While many of my days I sit on my black leather chair and fill word documents with sentences, I know I am a part of something so much greater. I am a part of a creative process.

At the end of an hour, I can see complete paragraphs on my screen. Add another half hour or two later in the day and I have a new poem to publish on my website. I write down information and ideas that have potential to teach and inspire readers. What a powerful, fantastic role I have as a writer! Best of all, I love what I do.

I start with a blank page most days. I fill the page with words that I string and tie up with a ribbon of punctuation. I proofread, edit, and publish. I do all of this, often, from the desk in my home office.

My writing space is a place where I work on technical articles as well as crafting poems. My desk is the hub of activity in my home (it is a home, not a house). I read emails there, write posts for Poetic Parfait, and conduct research for articles.

My writing area has many unique items. It is likely unique from other writers because of the thank-you cards and notes from clients that I display on my desk. The notes remind me of work I have done that people enjoyed. I read the notes to motivate me when I need a push to start my next assignment or reminder of how far I have come.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham meeting deadlines and creating poetry in her space

You see, this space was not always a work area. I had office jobs and did well, but a dark period brought turbulence to my life. My work soon became about healing myself, rather than working in an office. After soul searching (that soul was hiding for some time), I made the decision to write as my career. I do not look back, but instead look to my desk and gaze out the side window in my home office.

When I turn my head to the right, I see out a large window into the backyard. I see trees, birds, and a neighborhood cat saunters by at least once a day. I often look outside as I write a poem, gaining inspiration from blue sky or the sound of the rain against the windowpane.

I always have a few articles on the go. I consistently have deadlines to meet and searches to conduct for the next client. I write posts for my site Poetic Parfait, where I share poetry and music. I write articles for several sites and private clients, as well. 

I often have a cup of tea nearby. My readers know I love chocolate! I often have a chocolate bar or bag of M&Ms nearby. As I reach for the M&Ms, I often get a surge of inspiration – so having chocolate on hand is crucial! 

The chocolates and tea are comfort for me as I constantly strive to strengthen my writing techniques and me. I am beginning work on a poetry book. I hope to share that soon. Publishing a book has been a dream for so long and I would love to make it come true. We can accomplish a lot when we are positive and have focus.

What is my advice for writers? Write, even when you do not feel like it. Set time aside every day to write at least a few hundred words. If only ten of those words are worth publishing for your article, poem, or short story, at least you can end the day with a sense of accomplishment. In addition, the more you write, the more refined your writing style becomes. I truly believe that and follow that strategy. 

Bio: Christy Birmingham is an avid freelance writer and blogger who lives in British Columbia, Canada. She writes extensively about social media and technologyChristy is also the proud owner of Poetic Parfait. The site is the playground for poetry, music, and smiles. New faces are always welcome!