Story Outline Coach

When people ask how I write so many books so fast, I tell them it’s a combination of making the time, hard work, and outlining … When I say the word “outline” people usually look at me like I’ve said “root canal.” Seriously, it’s not that painful. Outlining can be incredibly inspiring and exciting, sparking ideas you didn’t even know existed below the surface.

Most of the people I’ve surveyed haven’t finished their novel because they didn’t have an outline. Would you drive to a new place without a map — or GPS? I definitely wouldn’t because I’d get lost in a heartbeat. Um, I get lost with GPS … So, why would you want to spend grueling hours writing pages and pages of words if you didn’t know where the story was going, how the character was changing, or how to reach the final destination?

Why do I need an Outline Coach?
If you haven’t written an outline or have trouble focusing, the mere thought of plotting out story beats and creating a story arc, as well as a character arc can be overwhelming. I still panic when I’m starting a new book, but once I start the outlining process, the world of creativity opens up and the possibilities become endless. I want to help you experience this joy. I will make the outlining process fun, interactive, and less painful.

What does an Outline Coach do?
I will work with you to build your story outline from the genesis to the final resolution.

– Go through important questions about character motivation
– Discuss the elements of a solid story
– Examine each story beat
– Develop a story arc and character arc
– Provide insider tips and tools from years and years of research and classes

How does the process work?
Meetings can be via phone, Skype, FaceTime, or in person if you live in Los Angeles. See pricing below.

Initial Meeting – You’ll come to the meeting with some initial ideas of your story’s beginning, middle, and end. I will ask questions about the character, plot, theme, and overall story arc. Together we’ll put together a basic summary of your book. If you’re already comfortable with your story and want to jump right in, we can go ahead and start plotting out the major beats.

Second Meeting – We’ll review what we discussed the previous meeting and start plotting the next set of beats and hopefully get to the middle of the story. We will go chapter by chapter and write bullet points for each one — or a short paragraphs. The more details you list at this phase the better. I’ve found it helpful to include lines of dialogue, setting details, and anything I don’t want to forget. Unless we’re miracle workers, we probably won’t finish getting through all the chapters and beats during this session.

Third Meeting – We’ll continue plotting out the remaining chapters. At this point we’re also making sure the character goals, story threads, red herrings, and plot lines have been carried out through the story and that everything is lining up and making sense. I will ask questions like, “Are we sure the character would do that?” or “Does this move make sense?” Depending on the length of your novel, by the end of this meeting we are aiming to have a solid outline. If not, we can keep going. When we’re finished, we’ll review everything beat by beat to see if there are any holes, loose threads, or if something doesn’t add up. We can make any final adjustments.

Fourth Meeting – Only necessary if you have a lengthy novel or we haven’t finished going through all the chapters and story beats, or if something isn’t logically adding up that we need to fix.

How much is this going to cost me?
The fee for a Outline Coach is $50 per hour. If you book 2-hour time blocks, you’ll get $20 off (so $80 per 2-hour session). I recommend booking at least 2 hours per meeting as there will be a lot to cover and we’ll need to get into a creative flow. At the end of each meeting, you can determine if you want to continue. There is no obligation to stick with me.

How long will this take and what’s your availability?
It all depends on how soon we regroup between meetings. I recommend booking the first two meetings close together. I’m a writer and have flexible hours, so I’m sure we can work out something.

If you’re still overwhelmed and not sure what to do. I’m happy to have a quick 5-10 minute conversation to answer any questions.

You can reach out to me via the Contact Form.

Testimonials
Simone worked with me, outlining a book I have wanted to write for a very long time. I just didn’t know where to start, even though I have begun this manuscript several times. Simone coached me on the essentials of setting up a plot worksheet, creating the inciting incident, establishing “critical choice” for my protagonist, and many other story basics. Her professionalism, combined with her intuition and sensitivity are a winning combination that has helped me create a workable frame for my novel. Along the way, Simone has given me support, encouragement, and positive helpful guidance. If you’re stalled in your writing, or if you just don’t know how to get started, I recommend you give her a call immediately! She’s a 5-Star writing maven!

I have had the pleasure of working on plotting outlines with Simone, and I am BLOWN away by her services. I have NEVER plotted two books in 24 hours. AND these are gonna be GOOD, like the kind of stories that people will love, and I am silently freaking out with excitement over here. Prices were VERY reasonable IMO. If you have trouble plotting, please contact Simone. You will NOT be disappointed. I have had such a FUN time plotting and I NEVER have fun plotting, especially the middle. Simone made the HARD MIDDLE so much easier to work through and actually helped me not only to write out the whole story but to see things in a whole new light. I honestly feel like someone has handed me the “How-to” manual! I ALMOST don’t want to share how incredible she is because I am scared everyone is going to fill up her schedule.

Reading is Magical

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be magic. I grew up watching Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, so naturally I wanted to have special powers. I was bummed when I discovered the magic wand I got for my birthday didn’t work. And that I couldn’t teleport. Or fly. But when I started writing Urban Fantasy novels, a new world open up. One where I could live vicariously through my characters.

While developing Sibyl’s character for Hidden Sight, I wanted a unique way tell the story from a blind girl’s perspective. The idea came to me that Sibyl should have a guide dog––who happens to be a shifter––that would be her eyes and help tell the story to the reader. Writing this book was a thrilling and challenging experience for me. Vago’s parts were especially fun––I’ve never written from a dog’s perspective!

Hidden Sight is a special book for me. The power of supernatural intuition is what saved my mother’s life. In her twenties, she was alone in the house when she collapsed in the bathroom. My grandmother, who lived five hours away, sensed that something was terribly wrong. She called the house and when my mother didn’t answer, she immediately called my father at his office. My father drove home to check on my mother and found her passed out on the bathroom floor. He rushed her to the hospital. She had an ectopic pregnancy that had ruptured and she would’ve died on the bathroom floor had my father not gotten to her in time. It was my grandmother’s intuition––or sixth sense––that helped save my mother’s life. I believe we all have a little bit of magic in us.

Here’s some more about Hidden Sight …

Blinded in an accident, only she can see the truth.

Losing her parents and her sight changes everything for Sibyl Forsyth. Terrified and refusing to accept the gift that she can now “see” into the supernatural realm, Sibyl stays holed up in her backyard, closed off from the outside world.

When she’s plagued with a vision of a catastrophic event, Sibyl knows she can’t possibly sit back and watch her California coastal town’s ultimate demise. Reluctantly, Sibyl sets out to stop her premonition from coming true. With the help of her shifter guide dog, Vago, the two join forces to save the day as they encounter intensely evil spirits with a vicious vendetta. In a race against time, Sibyl and Vago battle their own demons while trying to save the town from an explosive ending that nobody else sees coming.

If you enjoy stories with supernatural visions, suspense, and budding romances, then you’ll love my latest urban fantasy series! It’s Dead Zone meets Odd Thomas, but with a female heroine who has a lot of heart.

Buy Hidden Sight today and “see” what’s in store for you!

Available on AMAZON.

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Bookstagramming

Whoever said paper books are a dying thing must not be on Instagram. I can’t stop seeing books in my feed. I wanted to dedicate an article to a very special group of ladies I’ve been fortunate to find. They are book lovers who have cultivated an entire movement creating art with books. Their official title: Bookstagrammers. Their photographs are lovely and creative — and they make me want buy more books! I wanted to celebrate them and their unique artistry, so I interviewed each one asking why they started taking pictures of their favorite books.

Alexandra Ling aka @twirlingpages (40.9k Followers)
“I created my #bookstagram after realizing Instagram would be a wonderful platform to share my love for books and challenge my creativity through photography.”
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Tracey Spiteriaka aka @youngadultbookaddict (83.7k Followers)
“I originally started my Instagram account in the hopes of finding one or two people who shared my love of books, since none of my friends or family are really readers. I never in my wildest dreams expected my photos to garner as much attention as they do, but I’ve met some truly wonderful people because of it!”
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Adriana Vélez aka @booksthetics (16.7k Followers)
“I started bookstagramming because in it, I found a community of people that share the same passions as I do, which is to say books and photography and arts and everything that relates. And I must say, that my passion for all of these has grown and grown ever since I joined. Not to mention I’ve met so, so, so many loving, caring people, and in them I’ve found friends that I don’t doubt I’ll cherish forever. I love it, and I love them!”
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Cherry aka @_forevermint (14.1K Followers)
“I started taking photos of books because I needed an outlet for my inner fangirl, at the time I had no idea bookstagram existed but I was quickly introduced to the amazing community and it’s been my second home ever since.”
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Taylor Knight aka @taylorreads (63.4k Followers)
“I wanted to share the books I love with fellow readers and connect with others about books.”
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Jeanette Le aka @myriadinklings (50.6k Followers)
Jen wanted me to write something about her, so I’ll tell you why I love her pictures. Her color palettes are impeccable and she’s incredibly charming. Oh, and her room is pink!
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Raeleen Lemay aka @raeleenlemay (18.3k Followers)
“I’ve been making videos about books on YouTube for over four years now, and I’m finally getting into taking pictures of books (and loving it). It’s another great way to express my creativity, while also including my love of books.”
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Tamsien West aka @babblingbooks (15.9k Followers)
“One of my favourite things about sharing book photos and reviews is all the incredible friends I have made from all over the world. It is a joy to connect with inspiring, encouraging & sometimes challenging people. They motivate me through reading slumps, blow me away with excellent book recommendations, press me to read outside my comfort zone, and enrich my world far more than I ever could have anticipated.

To me, it’s not just about taking photos of books, it’s about sharing stories on pages and the stories in our hearts. It has been said that readers live a thousand lives, and I think that truth is only amplified when shared with friends.”
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Gabby Gibson aka @_myfictionalworld/ (23.3k Followers)
“I started taking pictures of books because I love instagram and I wanted to share my love for books on a platform that I know and love.”
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Allissa Lemaire aka @abookishloveaffair (80.1k Followers)
“My reason for starting my bookstagram account is simple; I love to read and I needed some way to express and share that love with people who could fully understand just how much books mean to me. Bookstagram is such a beautiful and inviting community of people we book lovers can relate to.”
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There are plenty of #bookstagrammers on Instagram, so go out there and find your tribe! Your feed will be filled with endless streams of beauty. And your TBR pile will increase exponentially.

Keep writing. It saves

Six things to help launch your book

In October 2013, I published my first novel. As of October 2016, I’m about to publish my ninth. Over the years, I’ve done extensive research and talked to countless authors about the publishing industry. I love offering help to writers who are just starting out on the journey. First, I want to say, it’s not an easy one. It has ups and downs, ins and outs, hours of isolation, grueling hours of solving what feels like trigonometry equations, moments of frustration and discouragement followed by limitless joy. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Whenever someone sends me an email asking for advice about launching a book, I have a go-to list of tips (which you’ll find below). I’m also available to hire as your very own author project manager. I help organize timelines, work with you on the outline, share my vendors, and hold your hand until the first draft is completed. If you hire me, you WILL finish your book. As long as you’re willing to commit.

For now, let’s focus on getting some visibility in a highly saturated market. Let’s say you already have a book and you’re ready to get it out in the world. Whether you’re looking for an agent or going the indie route, you’ll need to do a lot of your own marketing if you want to sell books. That’s just the way it is these days. There are SO many different approaches to marketing and it changes daily. The more creative and organic, the better. Below are a few things that have worked for me…

1) Get reviews

I try to get about 25 – 35 advanced reader reviewers before I announce the launch my book, but you can do this after it’s launched. I email ebooks about a month before the book launch and follow up a few days prior with a friendly reminder to please post their review on launch day.

2) Announce your launch

On launch day, email friends, family, and your mailing list (if you don’t have a mailing list – start one TODAY). Email every single person you know and tell them about your book launch. List your book at a lower price and let people know it’s “on sale” for the first week. These folks get the ball rolling, and when they start buying your book, your Amazon rank increases, which will attract new readers and move you up the ranks in the “Hot New Releases” category. Also, announce your launch on every social media site — but find a fun way to share this news with your followers. Try a Facebook book launch with some other authors, or by yourself. Exhausting, but has some benefits.

3) Advertising

When you do promos (free days or discounts), some sites will post your promo for free, others will charge a small fee. My favorites (and this changes): ENT, Ebook Hounds, BKnights, Awesome Gang, Bargain Booksy, Booksends, Fussy Librarian and Book Raid. If you can get a Book Bub ad, bless your heart. This has been a game changer for many people.

4) Publish more books

The more content you have, the more you sell. Just keep writing — no matter what.

5) Join some author groups on Facebook

Or start one with some like-minded writers in your genre. If you can get other authors to give your new release a shout out, that really helps a lot. It doesn’t hurt to ask. And don’t take it personally if they say no. They probably get a lot of requests.

6) Ongoing sales/price pulsing

You’ll want to monitor your sales and when they start to drop, you might want to lower your prices and do a promo to announce the sale. This will breathe some life back into your book.

7) Giveaways

I used to do free ebook promos, but after giving away about 60,000 books, I’m no longer taking this approach. If you’re new, I recommend enrolling in KDP Select so readers can borrow your book through Kindle Unlimited. These days the only free books I give out are for my exclusive readers on my mailing list. Goodreads giveways maybe. I haven’t done one in a while. But they’re good if you’re a new author.

8) Study the industry and stay on top of the trends

Below are some great websites; some offer free PDFs with marketing tips:

www.kboards.com (go to the Writer’s Cafe forum)
www.thecreativepenn.com/
www.writersdigest.com/
www.thebookdesigner.com/

Hopefully this is enough to keep you very busy as you research your next steps! Writing is the easy part (ha!) — it’s the marketing that hurts. I suggest having fun with all of it and trying out different things to see what works best for you.

Best of luck to you in your writing career!

Keep writing. It saves lives.

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