A Messy Miscellany For Writers

A Messy Miscellany for Writers crowds in information about

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

and much more. Offered by M.A. Lee and The Write Focus podcast.

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

These miscellany chapters first appeared on The Write Focus podcast; that’s another reason for the word messy. Five chapters come from episodes in the podcast’s first year, another five from the second year, and four others began the third year.

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.)

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”.

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)

Write Focus ~ Summer Podcast Series ~ A Mixed Miscellany

The series begins May 18.

We have various short topics to discuss. Compiling them into our Summer Series seems a smart idea. (Of course, what looks good on paper sometimes doesn’t translate to reality!)

Fiction / Poetry / Nonfiction / Interviews with Writers 

Thanks for listening to The Write Focus. We focus on productivity, process, craft, and tools. Our podcast is for newbies who want to become writing pros as well as veterans who are returning to writing after years away.

Looking for Links? All the way down!

Episodes links will not be active until the date of the episode passes!


May 18  Research / 3:21 / Episode 110

Research: a Ho-Hum topic? Not quite.

Research is necessary in all realms of writing.

Whether discovering the details that given veritas to our fiction, the details that we shouldn’t get wrong in commemorative poems, or just adding specific and elaborating details to our nonfiction, HUMDRUM RESEARCH is totally necessary.

The challenge comes in determining how many research details to use.

  • 1:11 Check-In
  • 2:50 Opening
  • 3:27 Challenges
  • 3:49 Fiction and Research
    • 4:31 Light Hand
    • 5:17 Active Use of Research
    • 5:52 Amount of Research to use
  • 7:26 Poetry and Research
    • 9:11 3 Chief Elements when presenting Occasional Poems
    • 9:16 4 Requirements of Song
    • 10:06 Public Ceremonies
    • 10:35 Writing for Independence Day
    • 12:50 Checklist for any poem / 10 To-Do’s
    • 13:46 Walt Whitman
    • 17:45 R. Waldo Emerson
  • 20:40 Nonfiction and Research
  • 21:40 Next Week
  • 21:54 Inspiration / Ezra Pound

May 25 Short Narratives, part 1

Having trouble with short narratives? Short stories? Narrative poems? Anecdotes in your blogs and essays/articles?

I had trouble. Free admission. I would launch into a story that I hoped would be 8,000 to 10,000 words only for the word count to top 20,000 or more. I was rather proud of myself when a planned short story ran less than 15,000 words.

My narrative poems ran longer than 5 or 6 stanzas. Think “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” length. For the blog I wrote, my example stories ran more than 15 to 20 sentences.

Too long. What’s that acronym? TL;DR. “Didn’t read.” Oops.

What was I doing wrong? Surely there’s a secret to short narratives? Guess what? There is! In this episode, I’ll share what I found.


  • 1:45 Opening
  • 3:28 Paul Simon’s “America”
  • 4:17 Avoiding the School-Taught Plot Pyramid
  • 5:15 Erle Stanley Gardner
  • 6:28 Lester Dent
  • 7:10 LDent’s Plot Formula
  • 8:32 The Basics
  • 12:00 Closing / Next Week
  • 13:00 Inspiration / Raymond Carver


June 1 Short Narratives, part 2

Success with short narratives? That’s our current goal. We’ve found Lester Dent’s Plot Formula.

We’re creatives, so we can adapt the formula to fit our genre needs. We know the four parts of the 4 movements. We’re writing fiction / poetry / non-fiction. What’s next?

The details, man. It’s all in the details … of the narrative.


  • 1:05 Opening
  • 1:52 Check-in
  • 2:55 Lester Dent’s Plot Formula
  • 7:21 Coincidence is a No-No
  • 8:04 Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls” with the Formula
  • 15:08 Riddling: a Tricky method to end any story
  • 15:53 Closing / Next Week
  • 16:28 Inspiration / Joyce Cary

June 8

June 15

June 22

June 29



Resource Links

Lester Dent’s Plot Formula / printable pdf / https://mgherron.com/2015/01/lester-dents-pulp-paper-master-fiction-plot-formula/

Paul Simon’s “America” https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/paulsimon/america.html

Video of above  America – Lyrics – Simon & Garfunkel – YouTube

Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls” https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/garthbrooks/thethunderrolls.html

Video of above “The Thunder Rolls”

Prep for Publication

Over at The Write Focus, we’re running a brief series on how to Prep your Manuscript for Publication.

After the Fall Writing Challenge, Revision, Edits and Corrections, and Publish & Promo are the last three steps.

Visit The Write Focus website to view everything we’re doing.

Hand Typing Retro Typewriter Machine Work Writer

By the Way, we’ve expanded distribution of the Podcast. In addition to Podbean, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify, you can listen to us on the following sites:

Amazon Prime



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Podcasting is fun!




Google Podcast


The Write Focus Summer Series now Concluded!

September celebrates the end of the Summer Series for Discovering Your Novel.

Current episodes are always availabe on the home page for this site.

You can link to the concluding episode here :: https://eden5695.podbean.com/e/267-publish-plus-discovering-your-novel/?token=14f7b66789916cb9ab3db0dae0e63e1c

October begins all new content: challenges then a mini-series for Preptober with inspiration!

All through April :: Writing Challenge

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 of the April episodes is running 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 in April will conclude with the two quotations from professional writers (Hemingway! Heinlein! Atwood! More!!!) that opened and closed her day’s writing sessions.

Episodes So Far ::

  • April 1 :: No Fooling
  • April 2 :: Change of Plans
  • April 3 :: Stick with the Plan
  • April 4 :: Nix Distractions
  • April 5 :: Watch for Warnings
  • April 6 :: Life Rolls
  • April 7 :: Win-Lose-Wind
  • April 8 :: Critical vs. Creative
  • April 9 :: Eat the Frog First
  • April 10 :: The Tax Man Cometh
  • April 11 :: Cocoons
  • April 12 :: Six Words Short
  • April 13 :: Wonders Never Cease
  • April 14 :: One Project, Two Project
  • April 15 :: Promotions
  • April 16 :: Covers
  • April 17 :: Frittery Jittery
  • April 18 :: Flipping Out
  • April 19 :: Input / Output
  • April 20 :: Looking Ahead

Coming Up to Finish the Challenge

  • April 21 :: Short Post
  • April 22 :: Biz Monday
  • April 23 :: Master Book
  • April 24 :: Expect the Unexpected
  • April 25 :: Carpe Diem as Writers
  • April 26 :: Nose to the Grindstone
  • April 27 :: Writers’ Groups
  • April 28 :: First Celebration
  • April 29 :: Writers Conferences
  • April 30 :: An End that’s Not an End and Lessons List
  •  May 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/