The Write-Brained Network: New Stuff in 2011

The end of 2011 marked a busy time for me and the WB.  We’d been having issues with our network host this fall, so we decided to move off and back onto Ning—where we started, I know!  But this time, it’s for keeps.  (I hope!)

Here's our new badass logo, compliments of Bridgid Gallagher!

Several Write-Brainiac “elves” assisted me in the moving process during the month of December (thanks, guys–you’re the best!), and I unveiled the new network Jan. 1.  Here it is, if you’d like to check us out (and I hope you will!):

For all current WB members, please make your way over to the new community and start using it exclusively.  I will allow a few weeks of transition time, in case you want to move any of your discussions, photos, blog posts from the site to Ning, but I will be deleting the WB site come Jan. 16. So be sure to pack your bags and get over to the new WB asap!

Also beginning this month, the WB has a brand new Web site and logo—I couldn’t be more excited!

The Web site will serve as a landing place for anyone trying to find out info about us and will be updated with all our latest news.  Here is that URL:

Please update your Favorites and Bookmarks accordingly. 🙂

In terms of our new logo, see above.  Inky Fresh Press’s Bridgid Gallagher made my decision very difficult by creating so many awesome logo choices!

We’ve got a lot in store for the WB in 2011, and I’d love to have you be a part of it!

Metamorphosis: Shenandoah Writers Online Becomes The Write-Brained Network

A few weeks ago, one of the members of my online writing community [Shenandoah Writers Online] approached me about starting up a satellite chapter of our group.  I have SW(IRL) [Shenandoah Writers (In Real Life)], and she wanted to have something in her area of the country [the Pacific Northwest].

Introducing . . . the WB!

However, with the name of the online group being associated with the Shenandoah River Valley, said member suggested I change the name to be more inclusive.

I had two reactions:

1.) It’s an online group—and *most* SWOers aren’t from the Shenandoah Valley, so what does it matter what the name is?  If Marice can be one of us from Brisbane, Aus., then why do we need to change it?

2.) ZOMG.  What she’s asking me to do is start a writing organization.

The more I thought about that, however, the more I realized I *already had* started a writing organization.  And, while it seemed a bit scary to think of it in that way, my mind started going ping! ping! ping!, and it all sort of clicked into place.

When I started the online writing community, my goal was to bring writers together.  I wasn’t meeting a ton of writers in my area [I’d just moved to a new city and state], and I wanted to connect with other write-brained peeps and stay in touch with those I’d met at writers’ conferences.

As well, a big part of my love for writing is teaching people how to write and seeking advice from others who know more about it than I do.  I learn about my writing during both of those interactions—we all do.  Each connection we make enriches us that much more.

All that corniness [which I totally mean, actually] aside, I realized I have a “vision” for Shenandoah Writers Online.  That’s why, starting now, we will be known as “The Write-Brained Network” [or “the WB,” as I’ll nerdily be calling it].  We even have a new URL!

While we’re not going to be morphing into something completely different, we’re going to build our skyscraper on the great foundation we already have. 🙂  I’ve put a few things in place in order for that to happen—changing our name is just step one.

And, perhaps it’s a bit premature to state this, but I would like to have our own IRL conference sometime down the line.  That’s the five-year plan anyway.  Will it happen overnight?  Absolutely not.  But the wheels are turning, and I just happen to live in one of the most gorgeous, most peaceful spots in the country—in the Massanutten ski resort.  That has a conference center.  And a BAJILLION rental properties.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 😉

Anyway, that’s my vision for Shenandoah Writers Online—The Write-Brained Network—the WB.

We’re still going to be free to join, and we’re still going to offer all the same cool stuff as before—but now that our numbers are getting bigger, I think our scope should as well.  We have reached more people than I thought possible at our inception eight months ago, and I can’t wait to see where we’re going.

If you haven’t yet checked us out, please do.  We’d love to have you!

This Week’s SWO LIVE CHAT & Story Openers

I’m hosting a live chat this Tuesday, May 25, from 9-10 P.M. EST on Shenandoah Writers Online.*

Our chats sometimes run over, if we feel so inclined, but the “official” time for this event is from 9-10 P.M.  Even if you can only stop by for a few minutes, it’d be good to have you poke your head in and say hello.**


We discussed story openers at the last Shenandoah Writers (IRL) meeting, and I’d like to further that conversation with the online group.


It would be great if you brought the opening line or lines of something you’ve written as well as the opening line or lines from one of your favorite books.

I would like to discuss what makes these openers successful (i.e., what hooks the reader, what we learn in the opening, etc.) as well as what we think are the elements of a successful opener.

This will also give participants a chance to workshop their own opening lines/paragraphs with the group and gain some feedback.


Here is one of the openings I’m bringing:

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.

What do we learn from this opening?

  • We gain some insight into the characters of the Dursleys:
    • J.K. Rowling (yes, this is the opening line to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) straight out tells us they are “normal” and happy to be so.  “Perfectly” in front of “normal” and the “thank you very much” shows that they are a bit snooty—it gives a sense of being uppity (a.k.a. we’re getting voice here).
    • Just from this first line, we learn the Dursleys are the type of people who don’t like their feathers ruffled—they like to maintain decorum.  They feel strange and mysterious things are nonsensical.
  • The first part of the second line (“They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious”) suggests to the reader that, although you wouldn’t expect them to be involved in something like that, they were involved in something like that.  Thus, the juxtaposition of these opposites—normal and strange—hooks the reader.  We want to know what it is they are involved in—and how these uppity people will deal with it/cover it up.

That’s just a taste.  I’ve posted some other novel openers—including my two novel openers—in “Files” on the SWO site, so please feel free to take a look.  If you’re not a member, see below to get started.


What do you think makes a good opening? 

If you can’t make it to the chat but would like to get in on the conversation, please leave your thoughts in the comments of this post.

*For more information about SWO, click on “Shenandoah Writers” in “Categories” in the right-hand side bar.

**You must be a member of SWO to participate in the chat.  Not a member yet?  E-mail me or click here to get started.

This Week’s SWO Live Chat, SheNoWriMo and Write-In

As most of you probably already know, we moved Shenandoah Writers Online from to  Click here for more information about it.

In a lot of ways, this new home is a bit more streamlined than our original place on Ning, and I’m already excited about the increased amount of activity among members so far.  Hooray!

If you’re a member but you haven’t come over to the new place yet—OR, if you’re not a member yet but would be interested in joining this writing community, click here to get started.*


I’m hosting a live chat this Tuesday, April 27, from 9-10 P.M. EST.  Our chats sometimes run over, if we feel so inclined , but the “official” time for this event is from 9-10.  Even if you can only stop by for a few minutes, it’d be good to have you poke your head in and say hello.**

This month’s topic: Rewriting & Revision: What’s Your Process & How Do You Know When to Stop?


I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, so now it’s official: May is the time for SheNoWriMo.

The rules:  There are no rules.

Well, that’s not entirely true—but, let’s say, you make your own rules.  Just write something.  Every day.  For the month of May.  I want SheNoWriMo to be like NaNoWriMo, but a little more accommodating.  Otherwise, no one’s going to do it!

For traditional NaNoWriMo, folks set out to write 1500 words a day—and then, at the end of the month of November (National Novel Writing Month), they have a 50,000-word first draft of something.  For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, click here.

For SheNoWriMo, let’s be more flexible.  Just set a goal for your daily word count.  For instance, if you think your schedule will only allow you to comfortably write 500 words/day, fine.  That’s your goal.  Post it on your “wall” and have at it.

You can write one continuous piece or a lot of smaller pieces—or, heck—even just writing prompts.

Repite, por favor?

Just set a goal for yourself and DO THE WRITING.  And keep us posted about it.  Ideally, I’d like all participants to keep a daily record (on their SWO walls) of their progress.

However, I realize there are all kinds of writers out there.  My husband, for instance, won’t be writing fiction—he’ll be pulling stuff out of his (*ahem*) dissertation and creating articles for publication in his field of mathematics education.  God bless him!

So, while he won’t be writing a novel, he could potentially set out a writing goal of 500 words per day—because I’m sure there will be a fair amount of research he’ll have to do and, you know, that whole professor thing getting in the way of his writing . . .

If you’re wondering about word count, as a general rule, 250 words=1 page.  That should help you gauge the amount of words to which you think you can commit.

Don’t be too aggressive; you don’t want to make it impossible to reach your daily goals, or that might discourage you from continuing the whole month.  However, don’t be wimpy either; this is supposed to be a challenge.

Essentially, tailor SheNoWriMo to your lifestyle as well as your writing tastes/purposes.  I do hope a lot of peeps will consider taking part in it.

Because . . . there could potentially be a fabulous priiii-iiiize *if I have enough participants.  I’m looking at said prize right now . . . (and, no, it’s not Molly!)


Last, but not least, I am going to be hosting an SWO write-in here at Château Schultz one Saturday in May—I haven’t decided when yet, but details forthcoming.

I know that most of you are not within driving distance of McGaheysville, Va., and therefore won’t be able to make it IRL (in real life), but that is OK.  It would be great to do a “virtual” write-in with us—especially for SheNoWriMo participants.  After all, I have iChat and Skype.  And, at the very least, we can use the “chat” function on SWO to talk to one another.

*For more information about SWO, click on “Shenandoah Writers” in “Categories” in the right-hand side bar.

**You must be a member of SWO to participate in the chat.  Not a member yet?  E-mail me or click here to get started.

What’s Keeping Me Up at Night? My New Writing Group on Ning

For the last month, I’ve been talking up a web-based chapter of Shenandoah Writers, and it’s finally here: Shenandoah Writers Online.

Here's a shot of the main page in all its awesomeness.

Having recently taken the leap from teaching full time to writing full time, I am no stranger to how lonely a writer’s life can be. Therefore, I have established both chapters of SW in attempt to put writers in contact with other writers.

No matter what your genre, stage, or level of writing, you can connect with other write-minded folks right here, in this social network.


This is a password-encrypted, by-invitation-only forum, where you can:

* Ask and answer questions on the forum

* Find critique partners

* Brainstorm

* Discuss your work

* Bounce ideas off others

* Journal (in a secure forum, by way of the “Blog” feature)

* Network

* Chat with members who are online when you are

* Follow the SW-IRL (Shenandoah Writers-In Real Life) writing group (check out the “Meetings” category under “Forum” to see what books we’re reading)

* Challenge yourself with SW-IRL’s writing prompts


I know some of you have new book deals (jealous!), don’t like doing writing prompts, have school, have kids, have H1N1, but this online group can be whatever you make of it.

If you’re not into reading books about the craft, that’s totally cool. Participate as much or as little as you want, but please stop by every once in a while and keep us in the loop about your writing. This group is free to join, and I’m not going to bombard you with e-mails, so don’t worry. Even if you aren’t sure what it is you want to do with it, but you like writing, I hope you’ll check us out.

As I mentioned, membership is by invitation only, so if you are interested and I haven’t already invited you, please shoot me an e-mail at

We’d love to have you!