A Messy Miscellany For Writers

A Messy Miscellany for Writers is Crowded with Information.

A Messy Miscellany covers a broad range of topics on …

  • craft and process,
  • productivity and tools,
  • writing crimes to avoid,
  • the how-can’s and why-should’s of writing guidance,

and much, much more.

These miscellany chapters first appeared on The Write Focus podcast; that’s another reason for the word messy.

Miscellany: separate writings on varied subjects collected in one volume.

What makes this miscellany of writer guidance so messy?

  • A scattering into the many areas of writing, original sketch to final draft, revision to publication
  • Writing professionally, both process and attitude
  • Ways to maintain productivity and keep the writing fresh
  • Tools that writers find helpful
  • References to help writers grow
  • Writing as a long-term career
  • Necessity of promotions and marketing

Five of the chapters come from episodes in the podcast’s first year, another five from the second year, and four others began the third year.

Chapters in Messy Miscellany

Beginning to Write

01: Resolve to Be a Writer ~ Once writing becomes not only a resolution but also a devotion, what steps do we take to achieve our devotion?

02: 7 Newbie Mistakes ~ Every successful writer begins with failures. The trick is to rise above the mistakes. That takes awareness as well as solutions to overcome them.

03: 3 Notta Mistakes ~ These could easily have turned into failures. I lucked into avoiding them. Here’s the reason they’re mistakes and how we can avoid them.

04: Write the Book, part 1 ~ Every writer needs a process to achieve that first goal, a finished manuscript. Here’s guidance for the initial steps, the flailing of the middle, and how to reach the last word of our goal. (For more detailed information, please consult 12: Revision Is a Process.)

05: Write that Book, part 2 ~ What’s needed after we type the last word of our manuscript? We have three more steps to complete and plan before we send our newly finished book into the reading world. (For more detailed information, please consult 13: Edit & Correct and 14: Publish & Promo.)

General Knowledge for All Writers

06: Horror Stories for Writers ~ We’ve all heard the list of no-no’s that writers shouldn’t do. In avoiding these, we sometimes tumble into five other horrors. Here’s guidance on avoiding these career-killers and how to fix them if we stumble into their mucky mire.

07: Gifts for Writers ~ No, not sticky notes or nacky pens. The best gifts for writers touch the heart, inspire the soul, and motivate the brain. We suggest opportunities that bring beaming smiles to writers’ faces.

08: Four Recommended Books for Writers ~ These improve our writing world. Keep them as ready reference all through our writing careers.

09: Three Essential Tools for Writers ~ These don’t include writing software. Not only are these tools, but they’re also essential habits. They create long-term success and prevent stress.

10: Three Films that Writers Need to Study ~ We deal in words. Why am I recommending films? Well, films begin as words, and they’re a quicker study than novels. I present how to choose films to study then launch into my recommended three chosen for their writing craft skills and the reason those skills are important.

11: Five Writing Crimes to Avoid ~ While these aren’t potential career-killers like the five horrors, they can slow our journey to success. These are crimes we’ve all heard to avoid as well as solutions to fix them—and not once do we include the classic “Show, not tell”.

With a Finished Manuscript ~

12: Revision Is a Process ~ So many people tout revision as a key to improve a manuscript draft. Few tell us how. Revision needs a critical brain and these four major steps.

13: Edit & Correct ~ These two harsh words are often confused with revision. They’re not revision, yet they’re just as critical. Even writers unsure of grammar and punctuation as well as MS style have necessary work before sending the book into the next stage.

14: Publish & Promo ~ We’ve reached the final stage. What do we need in place before we publish? How do we plan for our promotional marketing, in amount and cost?

Work through these 14 topics of A Messy Miscellany for Writers, and be well prepared when you declare yourself “a published writer pursuing long-term success”.

~ ~ ~

A longtime tinkerer with words, M.A. Lee published her first novels in 2015 and continues to write and explore the world of writing. As of this date, under her three pen names, she has over 50 titles.

A Messy Miscellany for Writers is her ninth non-fiction book. She also has three planners for writers, each with a different focus: for newbies, for writing projects, and for a word-count tracking throughout a year.

Since 2020, she has hosted The Write Focus podcast, which offers ideas for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. The heart of the podcast is productivity, process, craft, and tools. The summer series includes interviews with other writers.

Find yours here:

https://books2read.com/u/38ezzB (ebook)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B6Y5GWG2 (ebook)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B713BXGS (paperback)

The various topics are scattered through the first three seasons of The Write Focus.

For more links and resources, visit www.thewritefocus.blogspot.com  .

Write to us at winkbooks@aol.com.

Support the podcast with a cup of coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/winkbooksr

Listen on your favorite podcast site: from Apple to YouTube, Spotify and Podbean (my favs), Google Play, Amazon Music and Audible, Samsung and Player FM, Deezer and Podcaster, the rivals iHeart and Tune-in, and too many to list.

Here are the 4 easiest:

My favorite podcast is Podbean. https://eden5695.podbean.com/

YouTube direct link to the Mixed Miscellany playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na5LXb-83iM&list=PLXi3M_aM-d7ISCaEcoK4JV5wSUkGCmx_Z

Apple https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-write-focus/id1546738740%20

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/4fMwknmfJhkJxQvaaLQ3Gm?si=ffeb71ed17c3409d


3 Planners for Writers

Why do Writers Need Planners?

I’m not just promoting 3 Planners here. I have a reason for creating each one.

The #1 guarantee of continual writing success is tracking your progress, with all the successes recorded. We writers have a tendency to focus on our current problems and set-backs.

While every publication is a major success, the daily grind often has us thinking we’re back-pedaling rather than advancing. Tracking our minor successes and checking off our benchmark goals provides us with the incentives we need to keep working.

Cover by Deranged Doctor Design

The Basic Planner: a Word-Count Focus

What helps writers achieve those two goals? For speed, we need to concentrate our mental energies on writing daily. For the long haul, we need to know our projects, current and next and future. When we focus on speed and longevity, we write more than we ever have before.

Word Trekker accomplishes these goals by advance planning for our projects and tracking our words daily, monthly, quarterly, and yearly.

Any hikers out there? This planner is for you. Match those words to the step-count for the Triple Crown of Hiking.

  • Pacific Crest Trial > 2,650 miles
  • Continental Divide Trail > 3,100 miles
  • Appalachian Trial > 2,193
  • AT international extension into Canada 1,319 >> 2, 193 with 1,319 = 3,512

One hiking mile = 100 words. As hikers venture along each trail, they trek from state to state. Setting the Triple Crown of Hiking as a writing goal keeps us going through the year.

Much less than $1 a month, this 6 x 9 planner helps you work toward One Million Words in a Year. Click the link to discover more.

Cover by Deranged Doctor Design

Think in Projects Rather than Words?

Plan those writing goals. Nest the projects; hatch as you achieve them. Celebrate victories; analyze challenges. Soar with Success with the Writing Nest.

Long-term goals are easy to set. Breaking the long-term goals into short-term goals helps us slog through the slow times. Those slow slogs can lead us to think we’re not achieving, yet a simple record will keep us motivated to continue on.

Where can we keep that record of achievements, short-term and long-term? A daily system that builds to mid-term benchmarks and seasonal achievements. That system should help us not only record our achievements but also set our long-term and short-term goals.

Sized 8 x 10, this undated planner (priced for $1 a month) lets us start anytime, taking breaks between projects or powering through the year. Click for more info.

cover by Deranged Doctor Design for Writers Ink Books
Cover by Deranged Doctor Design

The Planner for Newbies

Want to make writing a commitment rather than a hobby? Striving for professional publication rather than wannabe status? The Think/Pro planner helps make the conversion from newbie to writing pro.

$1 a month, this undated planner tracks word counts and healthy habits, offers creativity tips and tax tips, offers progress meters for projects and a weekly inspirational quote from a major writer.

In addition to the weekly spread with a Top 3 Task List are Monthly Reviews & Previews and Seasonal & Yearly Planning pages.

The Monthly Review has a Productivity Tracker and a Progress Meter as well as places to jot down Business Contacts and Expenses. Seasonal Previews ask you to polish the nuts and bolts of your projected words per week and sharpen up the time remaining before your deadline.  At the end of every month, the planner offers a record for victories as well as upcoming challenges.

Time to change “Seize the Day” into “Seize the Dream.”  For success, we need to Think/Pro.  This 8 x 10 planner will help.



Writing Challenge Rewind ~ All through June

On The Write Focus, we’re posting a daily podcast from Write a Book in a Month, by Remi Black.

Daily check-ins include the project stage progressing word count as well as speculations on writing in general and the writing business in particular.

Click this link to visit TheWriteFocus blog.


Criteria for the Challenge ::

1] Daily Word Count

2] Length to Goal

3] Reason for the Goal


Each episode runs less than 10 minutes. Listen briefly every day or hoard up several episodes for when you fix a quick dinner, drive a short commute, or take a brisk walk.

Lessons for writing happen along the way!

Each episode will conclude with the two quotations from professional writers (Hemingway! Heinlein! Atwood! More!!!) that opened and closed the day’s writing sessions.

Episodes ::

  • 1 :: No Fooling
  • 2 :: Change of Plans
  • 3 :: Stick with the Plan
  • 4 :: Nix Distractions
  • 5 :: Watch for Warnings
  • 6 :: Life Rolls
  • 7 :: Win-Lose-Wind
  • 8 :: Critical vs. Creative
  • 9 :: Eat the Frog First
  • 10 :: The Tax Man Cometh
  • 11 :: Cocoons
  • 12 :: Six Words Short
  • 13 :: Wonders Never Cease
  • 14 :: One Project, Two Project
  • 15 :: Promotions
  • 16 :: Covers
  • 17 :: Frittery Jittery
  • 18 :: Flipping Out
  • 19 :: Input / Output
  • 20 :: Looking Ahead
  • 21 :: Short Post
  • 22 :: Biz Monday
  • 23 :: Master Book
  • 24 :: Expect the Unexpected
  • 25 :: Carpe Diem as Writers
  • 26 :: Nose to the Grindstone
  • 27 :: Writers’ Groups
  • 28 :: First Celebration
  • 29 :: Writers Conferences
  • 30 :: An End that’s Not an End and Lessons List
  • July 5th :: Aprés-Draft Update

Listen on the following sites. 

Bookmark your favorite to come back daily.

Podbean: The Write Focus (podbean.com)

Apple podcast https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-write-focus/id1546738740%20

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/4fMwknmfJhkJxQvaaLQ3Gm?si=0GFku2PbShWXiDhRp7JaDQ

YouTube Channel Writers Ink Books – YouTube

Join us!

Resources as of April 20

Amazon links are given because it’s easy, and for no other reason.

Purchase Write a Book in a Month at Amazon here.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0848MWXGD

Also mentioned in the first 10 episodes (March 31 to April 5) ~

Patty Jansen’s Self Publishing Unboxed Amazon.com: Self-publishing Unboxed (The Three–year, No-bestseller Plan For Making a Sustainable Living From Your Fiction Book 1) eBook: Jansen, Patty: Kindle Store

Purchase Think/Pro at Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Think-like-Pro-Advent-Writers/dp/1983248266/

The Think/Pro planner for writers can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Think-Pro-Planner-M-Lee/dp/1983248673/

Dwight V. Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer https://www.amazon.com/Techniques-Selling-Writer-Dwight-Swain/dp/0806111917/  

Anne Morrow Lindbergh Gifts from the Sea https://www.amazon.com/Gift-50th-Anniversary-Anne-Morrow-Lindbergh/dp/0679732411/

Marie Kondo The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing/dp/B00RC3ZGN4/

Celebrate a Book Birthday!

On this day in 2017, M.A. Lee published Old Geeky Greeks, third in the Think like a Pro Writer series.

We published with one cover. At the end of 2019, as part of the year-long updates to the entire Think like a Pro Writer series, our cover designers Deranged Doctor Design came up with this wonderful cover.

Here’s information for this book. Click the link to Amazon to purchase.

What do these have in common?

Atonement. I, Robot. The 13th Warrior. The Hobbit. Jurassic Park, in all its iterations.

Harry Potter. Ironman. Perseus. Dudley Dooright. Macbeth.

5 Stages of the Hero and the Monster. Blood tragedies. The scariest woman in all literature. Hubris.

These oddly-matched items all have origins in the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The first storytellers discovered many ways to intrigue and thrill their audiences.  They laid strong foundations for what worked and what didn’t work. Their techniques are still used, re-packaged as exclusive insights, glittery infographics, three-point seminars, and Wham-Pow webinars urging modern writers to Buy Now!

Old Geeky Greeks: Write Stories with Ancient Techniques presents these techniques in a clear, organized method for writers.

Chapters in OGG cover understanding characters, plot requirements and the oldest plot formula (the Blood or Revenge Tragedy), and such concepts as in medias res and dulce et utile and more, all to solve the sticky problem of audience expectations.

The bright minds of Classical Antiquity first explored that problem, and the answers that they developed are applicable in this age of the internet, special effects, and infographics.

Save yourself the hours spent at seminars and in webinars or scanning social media. Spend that time writing—and study the Old Geeky Greeks at your leisure. Whether writing novels or plays, blogs or non-fiction, poems and songs, this guidebook offers information to improve your writing.

Old Geeky Greeks is a seminar in book form, 28,000 words of time-proven techniques.

Writer M.A. Lee has published 25-plus titles under various pen names since she began self-publishing in 2015. She has over 30 years of experience in guiding college and high school students as they examined, analyzed, and applied these techniques.

Celebrate! *Discovering Your Writing*

It’s the anniversary of the bundled Discovering Your Writing”, the epic journey for writers.

cover by Deranged Doctor Design for Writers Ink Books

Designed for writers at any skill level, this four-book bundle of the acclaimed series is a resource-rich compendium of craft information.

4 Books

for Writers

Bundled together

Discovering Your Plot covers six types of plot structure and the necessities of genre expectations. In its detailed examination of the major sections of a novel, it offers clues to pacing, tension and suspense, and sequencing of events.

Discovering Characters guides writers to create individuals rather than cookie-cutter stereotypes. This guidebook is designed to reveal the public and private interiors of characters. Templates and interviews are merely a start when delving into the backstories and relationships of our characters.

To hook readers, savvy writers manipulate cover imagery, titles, and the back-cover market copy. With the right keys, explored in Discovering Your Author Brand, learn how to brand your books, your series, and yourself as writer. A supplementary section covers writing a book trailer—the best guidance for writing any market copy.

Improving your writing craft is simple with the lessons and examples provided in Discovering Sentence Craft. A writer needs much more than grammar and spelling. Figurative and interpretive elements are the first step in creating rich text. Structural elements like opposition, repetition, inversion, and sequencing offer additional methods to polish your words.

At 129,00-plus words, Discovering Your Writing is truly an epic undertaking, a heroic journey necessary for anyone wanting to grow as a writer.

Writer M.A. Lee worked as a journalist and copy writer before pursuing the challenge of teaching high school students the triumvirate of literature, composition, and grammar+. Those years of teaching meant that she continued learning herself, sticking fingers into the writing craft and twisting things around to understand them before conveying that knowledge to students. The Discovering guidebooks for writers are proof that her internal teacher keeps presenting lessons.

Since beginning her self-publishing journey in 2015, M.A. Lee (under her pen names) has published more than 30 works of fiction and nonfiction.


Discovering Your Novel

What kind of writer are you?  Planner or Plotter?  Pantster?  Puzzler?  Muse Muffin?

Whether you use the mosaic method or a chronological one, whether you outline every scene or let the words flow, the method does not matter.  What matters is the end goal.

So, what’s the end goal with your writing?  Just to write?  To publish?  Fame and fortune?

Plenty of frittery flutter-bys write and write and go nowhere.  As for fame and fortune, those can’t be guaranteed.

However, when your goal is publication, Discovering Your Novel is the guidebook to help you overcome the Sisyphean task of first word to publication.

With the goal of completing a novel in 52 weeks, this guidebook can be self-paced or tracked week by week for persistent success.

  • If you have a half-completed manuscript that you’re lost in, use the Foundations and Visioning sections to work your way out of the labyrinth.
  • If the story’s a mucky mire more like quicksand than a novel you can build on, use the Analysis section to clear away the mud and weeds.
  • Like a long ball of string, the multiple charts will help you keep track of where you’ve been and where you will head next.  Printable charts are available for free at the website address provided in the guidebook
  • When you complete the manuscript, what do you do next?  The sections on Harvesting and Finishing answer these questions as they guide you to creating a professional career as a writer.

Launch your writing journey at your current location on the publishing road—incipient idea or character sketches or story plan or struggling manuscript or completed novel looking into publication.

Track your progress with daily word counts recorded on the charts.

Learn the devices and definitions that pro writers have swirling in their heads.

Maintain the discipline and preparation that keeps pro writers at work, no matter the interruptions.

Writer M.A. Lee meandered along the road of unfinished manuscripts and completed novels with nowhere to publish for many years before she decided to drive to her own destiny.  If you’re tired of gatekeepers and pay-to-play schemes, if you’re weary of elitist traditional publishers and you’re eager to jump on the self-publishing juggernaut, then Discovering Your Novel will give the guidance you need.