9 Sentences: Planning Your Story Without the Dread of Outlining

Cheryl Campbell

Cheryl Campbell

Continuing our conversation with author Cheryl Campbell

On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 3:27 PM, Cheryl Campbell <ccampbell.me@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Joel,I have signed up for KDP (not KDP select) and Smashwords. I have the book up on Smashwords and pending Premium Status approval. I was pretty OCD about following the Smashwords formatting guideline so I’m not expecting any issues there. I have the book loaded in draft form on KDP right now. I’m waiting for a few final sketches from the guy that also did the cover art to consider incorporating into the book before posting it there.

I know on Smashwords I can upload updated versions of the book. Does KDP offer this same service as seamlessly as Smashwords? I didn’t see or read anything yet on KDP about uploading new versions.

I’m a little baffled about getting the book to print. Createspace is a part of Amazon…do I have that correct? And they are print on demand service and post the print book thru Amazon? Before I signed up for a Createspace account I wanted to see if you had more info on them and any pros/cons to using them or another service.

There is a local publisher, well local to Maine, in Rockland, Maine Authors Publishing, and I would love to use them but they are really pricey. I want to use them because they’re Maine based and they offer good services, but the cost for the services is a bit crazy. They offer an editorial reading for $145 with some feedback on the overall book…not like “wow this is a great fantasy” but more like feedback on story flow, character development, etc. My beta readers thus far, one is fantastic. My other two I have yet to hear from. So I’m leaning toward getting a set of independent, non-friend, eyes on it. Is $145 reasonable for this service? Or is this also overpriced?

As always, thank you for your time.


On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 5:04 PM, Joel Canfield <joel@somedaybox.com> wrote:
KDP allows you to upload new files any time you want. Smashwords keeps versions; I think KDP just overwrites what’s there. It’s also unpublished for about 24 hours while the file is checked. I’ve uploaded new version with no apparent problems.

CreateSpace is Amazon, yes. Print on demand. You upload a print-ready PDF of the cover, and print-ready PDF of the interior. Order a printed proof, and if it’s perfect, approve it and it appears on Amazon and if you use identical titles and author info, will be tied to the Kindle version. I can give you pointers about formatting and cover layout if you like.

I have used LuLu but they’re more expensive than CreateSpace, as is Lightning Source. I only use CreateSpace and see no reason to even investigate anyone else until I hear of something that’s a meaningful improvement in quality, service, or price.

Does your book still need editing? What stage is it at?

When I’m ready for independent review of my fiction, I will not even consider consulting anyone but Larry Brooks, author of Story Engineering and Story Physics, the two most important books about writing fiction in existence.

His $35 conceptual review is worth 5 times that: http://storyfix.com/the-35-conceptual-kick-start-story-analysis

His Story Coaching package, at $150, will give you an infinitely greater learning experience, and FAR more feedback (in quality and quantity) than I can imagine any publishing house providing at that price point. http://storyfix.com/the-100-level-story-coaching-program

I haven’t used Larry’s services, but I read his blog religiously, and his book Story Engineering saved my next mystery from being a half-baked thrown-together stew. I was born 9 months after Raymond Chandler died, and with Larry’s books, I’ll be able to accept my birthright as a mystery writer.

Have I fawned and foamed over Larry enough?

On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 4:35 PM, Cheryl Campbell <ccampbell.me@gmail.com> wrote:
Thanks for the info on KDP and CreateSpace.You had previously told me about formatting based off of a book that I love. I have the cover done and posted at burntmountainbooks.com if you want to take a look at it there. And I have started blogging once a week…starting to feel a little more comfortable with that even tho I don’t have anyone subscribing to me yet.

I don’t think the story needs more editing, but I’m not certain. I have not had that independent, neutral, non-friend set of eyes on it yet. My excellent beta reader promised to be honest even to the point of telling me if the book sucked. First round, he gave me some great feedback. I had already started writing book 2 by this point while waiting on another beta reader that never got back to me. Book 2 ended up being “easy” to write in the context that I was more comfortable with the characters so it was easier to write them. I had also changed the format to write from all characters’ perspectives instead of just two of them. It worked.

So while I had my reader reading book 2 once I had that done, I went back to book 1 to overhaul it for structure/readability to match book 2. Jim, my reader, loved book 2 and loved the format of it and completely agreed that book 1 would be better in a similar format…all characters’ perspectives/thoughts. And he did let me know that one of the character’s came off as a jerk, so if I didn’t want him to be a jerk, I needed to do some re-writes to fix him. And he was right, I did not intend for that character to be a jerk so I will make edits there…..but this is in book 2 which isn’t ready yet. I’m just making the case for Jim that he has been honest.

He was game for another round of punishment and re-read book 1 again after the overhaul and he had lots of praise there too. He is an avid reader so I trust his judgment, it’s just that he’s the only one to give me real feedback thus far. So I guess I’m really just second guessing myself. Jim had posted on his Facebook page to his friends along the lines of “book 1 is really good and the second one is even better”….. So does this mean book 1 is mediocre and book 2 is great? Or are they both good but he just liked the second one better? I really don’t want to turn book 1 loose without the confidence to believe it’s ready for the world. Am I babbling yet?

Do you tend to do the conceptual review or the coaching package at $150? Sounds like I need to check out his two books!

On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 6:44 PM, Joel Canfield <joel@somedaybox.com> wrote:
I haven’t done Larry’s reviews yet, but I’ll be doing the $35 concept first. I’m very confident in my story telling, but I know getting the concept nailed is a key factor I haven’t been good at. You might start there.

If you have a serious fan, and you think the books are ready, I declare them ready. You can second guess yourself ’til the cows come home. If Jim’s been honest, you’re good to go. So go.

Here’s the truth about second books, albums, whatever: it’s called “the sophomore slump.” So many seconds have been, shall we say, mediocre, that it has its own name. Even Dire Strait’s second album wasn’t very good, hard as that is for me to believe.

If your second book IMPROVES on the first, that means the first is gold, and the second is platinum.

Otherwise, he would have said the second book sucked less than the first, not the other way ’round.

Yeah, I know; us authors are wired to find the cloud behind every silver lining.

On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 7:46 PM, Joel Canfield <joel@somedaybox.com> wrote:
Cover looks great. I don’t like the font, but you said that’s a first draft.

What’s the short description of your book?

On Jul 22, 2013, at 7:27 PM, Cheryl Campbell <ccampbell.me@gmail.com> wrote:
Thanks so much! You’re right about finding that cloud.It bugs me that I hadn’t heard from my other two readers yet. One had seen an earlier draft and I knew she liked the basis for the story even then, but not hearing from her on the re-writes bugs me. The other reader is brand new to the manuscript. I picked her because she and I aren’t close friends and she’s a generation younger than me. But she is a fantasy lover so that’s why I went for her. And my criteria for all of my readers was to be honest and let them know it was perfectly ok to not like the book (though of course I was hoping they wouldn’t hate it).

What don’t you like about the font? I kinda liked the crackled look because part of the story involves lava. Does that make it too busy looking and a more solid font would be better? On the blog I did about elance.com, that was indeed an early draft. The moon was too bright and messed up the sub title. The more final draft to darken the sky and dull the moon is on the Home page in the left corner of that top red bar on the site. The artist fixed a few things and also lightened the overall color so it’s easier to pick out the elements, the clouds aren’t so busy, and the moon doesn’t mess with the subtitle. Thank you for your feedback! I appreciate all of it!

Short description on Smashwords:

Burnt Mountain The Monster Within is a fantasy novel set in Maine. Two families join together to face their fears coming to life and discover new horrors as they struggle to stay alive. (Personally this feels a bit bland to me)

Longer description for the back of the book:

When the past refuses to remain hidden, fears and secrets find their way back into Emma Kaiser’s life and escalate further when her daughter, Rio, falls victim to the same trap that snared Emma fourteen years earlier. Passing through the portal into the dangerous world lurking beneath Burnt Mountain, Rio, Colby, and Sebastian, discover a realm where fears come to life and turn deadly. Sensing her daughter’s danger, Emma must return to the place where her nightmares began to find Rio and get her and the Riley twins out alive. Before the Kaisers and Rileys can escape, they find help from a few unexpected friends and learn that the world containing the creatures hunting them also has a unique ability to heal. (I do like this better than the short description, and it’s vastly better than my earlier attempts at a short synopsis, but some of it still feels so so).

I also did the book summary in 9 sentences exercise from Larry Brook’s site. That seemed to go well. I didn’t have much trouble putting that together so that made me feel better about book one.


On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 10:18 PM, Joel D Canfield <joel@findingwhy.com> wrote:
I like subtlety in fonts. A face that says “look at me I’m all lava-y woohoo” is easy. A font that makes the prospective reader uneasy and tense, but they don’t know why, is more subtle.

But — if you’re writing for younger readers, subtlety is less important.

Would you send me your 9 sentences? I’d love to read them.

People make promises in all sincerity but then life gets in the way. I had 20 people RSVP for a teleclass once and zero showed up. Most vocally enthusiastic beta reader for my last book never read it.

Take what you can get. Even their interest is a gift. Accept it graciously and move on.

On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 5:44 AM, Cheryl Campbell <ccampbell.me@gmail.com> wrote:
My original target audience was the early teen range since this all started out as a story for nieces and nephews when they hit the 12-13 y/o mark, but the story ended up blending a bit to cover adults too, especially where I the primary characters are 3 teens and 3 adults. I’ll ask Steven for an image of the book with a more normal looking font…see what it looks like. Won’t hurt to have a looksie.I’ve attached the 9 sentences. “The Monster Within” subtitle actually comes from the very ending of the book and is really about Rio. After unleashing her rage on the creatures, she wonders what kind of monster she is to do something like that, and verbalizes it to her mother. I have lots of nastiness in the creatures living in the other world, but the true reference is directed at Rio.

And I thought more about what you said about having a fan in Jim. I do, that’s a fact. He was after me for a third book before he’d finished reading the second one. Thanks again for talking me off that doubt ledge! I understand what you mean about people and promises and life. I was a TA in grad school and offered the students extra sessions in anatomy & physiology. So much verbal excitement at having the additional study sessions and I was lucky if I had one person show who was actually there to learn. So again, thanks for putting things in perspective. If I haven’t said it before, you’re freakin awesome and I’m glad I connected with you on Linked In and I’m super glad that you love what you do and are so willing to share your knowledge and wisdom!

  1. Hook – The prologue introduces that there is a hidden danger within the pond at Burnt Mountain that pulls victims into it when the water is disturbed, and in the first chapter you see that one of the victims from the prologue is still alive and living current day but you don’t yet know how she escaped an apparent death by drowning.
  2. Part 1 exposition (set-up) – The story introduces additional characters, exploring a bit of their personalities and history, introducing Emma’s incomplete medical background, and Rio’s interest in learning more about her mother’s nightmares and how they relate to Burnt Mountain.
  3. First Plot Point – Rio, Colby, and Sebastian are dawn into the same trap that captured her adoptive mother (Emma), biological mother (Jody), and their friend (Colin), fourteen years earlier.
  4. Part 2 exposition (response, journey begins) – The teen trio is immediately faced with fears coming to life and finding unexpected help from Colin who still lives trapped in the world beneath Burnt Mountain, while Emma and Ethan go to Burnt Mountain to find the teens and also face their fears.
  5. Mid-Point – The two families reunite, learn of the new world’s healing abilities through rain, and become actively hunted by the world’s resident creatures/ carnivores, the Tuars, where the lead Tuar villain, Ilnin, continues to hunt Colin and still remembers Emma’s escape after fourteen years.
  6. Part 3 exposition (hero now becomes proactive) – Rio discovers that she can partially control the weather (similarly to how her mother Jody had done previously with a fire storm that aided Jody and Emma’s escape fourteen years ago) and the world’s healing rain while the group gets more unexpected help from a wolf, a batbird hybrid, and former resident of the world, Georg.
  7. Second Plot Point – Rio learns that her father is likely Colin and the adults of the group are desperate to get the teens out as quickly as possible before the war between the two Tuar clans escalates and prevents their escape entirely.
  8. Part 4 exposition (hero becomes catalyst for…) After seeing all of her friends and family injured/attacked as part of the Tuar war, Rio’s anger turns from creating storms of healing rain to one of destruction and fire against the Tuars where the group is mostly intact and escapes, though despite the fiery magma Rio rains down on her enemies, Ilnin survives and vows revenge after briefly leaving his realm and discovering the human’s world before becoming trapped beneath Burnt Mountain again.
  9. Ending/resolution – With Georg and Wolf perishing during their escape, the group must deal with their grief and also part ways as the Rileys (Ethan, Colby, Sebastian) return home to England leaving Emma, Rio, and Colin behind, and Rio wonders if the creatures will eventually figure out a way to escape their world under Burnt Mountain……hence Book 2 and that’s how Book 2 starts off Chapter 1.

On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 11:16 AM, Joel D Canfield <joel@findingwhy.com> wrote:
Love your 9 sentences.

Cheryl, most folks ask me a question or two, then go back to whatever they were doing. That’s fine. Some folks engage, then hire me, and that’s good too.

But the people I care about most are the ones like you who not only suck it all up like a sponge, asking more and more questions, but show appreciation and make it clear to me that I’m helping you do what you love.

Somewhere down the road, if I could extract a testimonial of some kind from you, that kind of social proof is how others choose to work with me. Not as payment, because I don’t need payment, but as a favor to me.

On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM, Cheryl Campbell <ccampbell.me@gmail.com> wrote:
I would be happy to do a testimonial. Just let me know what venue(s) you’d like…ie email, facebook, LinkedIn, or others.Cool, glad you liked the 9 sentences. How did the short and longer descriptions strike you? Do they sound engaging like it’s something you (or someone you know if you don’t like fantasy) would want to read? Did the descriptions reflect what additional info you gathered based on the 9 sentences?

I downloaded the Story Engineering book last night and started on that one. Looking forward to digging into that one more and have the other book on Physics queued up.

On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM, Joel D Canfield <joel@findingwhy.com> wrote:
The 9 sentences gave me far more than the synopses.

I’ve got a deadline to meet, but I want to discuss your synopses. Can you ping me in 24 hours to remind me?

On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM, Cheryl Campbell <ccampbell.me@gmail.com> wrote:
will do!
On Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 1:53 PM, Cheryl Campbell <ccampbell.me@gmail.com> wrote:
I have reached out to Larry to do the conceptual kick start for the book…even though my book is finished really (unless he finds some major issues through the kick start), I couldn’t imagine having him review the concept as being a bad thing. In the blog he sent out today it had his concept kick off document for one of his clients. Using that, I’ve attached it to this email, I put some more structure around what I see coming out of the story for the questions he asks in the document. Which means my short and long synopses, as they stand now, are still quite flimsy.

From: Joel D Canfield <joel@findingwhy.com>
Date: Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 1:59 PM
Subject: Re: Createspace
To: Cheryl Campbell <ccampbell.me@gmail.com>
I haven’t read the details behind his post yet. Probably do it in the morning when I’m fresh.

I like your answers. Love to see Larry’s feedback, if you don’t mind sharing once you have it.

I still want to review your synopses and give you some feedback. Send me an email late tonight and it’ll be the first thing I see and do tomorrow morning.

Continued tomorrow.

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