August/September Newsletter

In This Issue:August/September, 2009   

     Pre-Flight Check In: Last Fundraiser in 2009 for Lou Gehrig’s Disease

     Flight Review:  August Events

     Flight Plan:  Immersion Master Classes, Presentations, and More!

     Add Power and Take Off with a DEEP EDITING ANALYSIS — Lisa Gardner!


                1.  Deep Editing Analysis Contest:  WINNER — Ellen Randall

                2.  Name Margie’s Blog Contest!

     Flight Deviation:  Blog-o-rama!

               1.  Guest Blogging

               2.  How-to Author Series Features Kelly Stone

     Mileage Points – Upgrade:  Booking Master Classes, Retreats, Conferences

     Smooth Landing!

Pre-Flight Check In:

    Last Fundraiser in 2009 for fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease:  Two Big Prizes!

This fundraiser is for writers and nonwriters.  My cousin has Lou Gehrig’s disease.  I am committed to help Dennis raise funds. 

Please encourage any caring person you know to donate on Dennis’s new Help Dennis Walk page and e-mail me with their names.  You’ll be entered in my BIG PRIZE DRAWING for every $50 donation from you and by people you recruited. 

Dennis was diagnosed with ALS in September, 2008.  This picture of Dennis with his daughter Jenna, ready to scuba dive, was taken in November, 2008.  Now, Dennis cannot dress himself, cannot get up without help, can barely walk with a walker . . .

I love enticing you with BIG PRIZES! 

  1.  Five Hours of One-On-One Deep Edit Consulting, In Person, Telephone, or Skype, worth over $450!  You can divide it into five one-hour consults, or break it up anyway you like.  E-mail chapters to me and I’ll share five hours of in-depth Deep Edit Consulting.

   2.  Registration for a three-day Immersion Master Class:  Deep Editing Power, in 2010, a $450 value!

The fundraiser runs September 1st through October 10th.  Dennis will draw the names of TWO WINNERS on OCTOBER 10th.  Winners have their choice of the two prizes.  Click Here for details and a link to my cousin’s fundraiser web site.     

You can also make a difference by ordering Lecture Packets on-line.  For every Lecture Packet I sell ($22 each), I donate $5 to support the fundraiser.

I appreciate the donations for the previousALS fundraiser as well as the caring e-mails I’ve received.  You all are amazing people.

Flight Review

Looking Back:  August Events:

Immersion Master Class

Six dynamite writers came together in August to dig deep into Deep Editing:  Hanna Rhys Barnes (Oregon),  Stephanie Meehan (Whidbey Island),  Cheryl Carter, (Michigan), Lesli Lent, Louise Suit, and Megan McGee, (Colorado).  Kudos to them and their Deep Editing accomplishments!
Flight Plan

    Upcoming Events!

     Two Immersion Master Classes in September!

     Location:  Margie’s mountain top home, west of Denver.  Participants stay at the nearby lodge.  Enrollment limited to seven.  Due to late cancellations, one slot opened in each September session.  Early bird fee applies.                                                          

                   September 13 – 17 — One Opening

                   September 20 – 24 — One Opening

IMC sessions for 2010:  April 15 – 19;  May 13 – 17;  September 12 – 16;  October 7 – 11

     Three Writing Conferences:

             Colorado Gold Conference:  September 11, 12, 13

              1.  Tick, Tock, Kill:  The Psychology of the Criminal Mind

              2.  The EDITS System:  The Good, the Bad, and What’s Missing

             American Christian Fiction Writers Conference:  Sept 17, 18, 19, 20

                     Workshops:  1.  Writing Body Language Like a Psychologist

                                           2.  How You Say It:  Powering Up iwth Dialogue Cues

             Florida Writers Association Conference October 23, 24, 25

                      Workshop:  Deep Editing Power:  Creating Page Turners

     Two Full Day Master Classes:

            Oct. 22, Florida Writers Assoc. Pre-Conf. Master Class, Empowering Characters’ Emotions

            Nov. 9,  North Texas RWA Conference, Empowering Characters’ Emotions    

    On Line Classes:

            October:  Parts 1 and 2:  Digging Deep Into the EDITS System

            If you have taken Empowering Characters’ Emotions and Deep Editing, you are ready to dig deeper, get clarity, and add more psychological power. 

Add Power and Take Off with a Deep Editing Analysis!

DEEP EDITING ANALYSIS —– Featuring Lisa Gardner:


New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner always delivers masterful writing craft, intriguing plots, and characters that are vivid, complex, compelling — etched in your mind for years.  In THE NEIGHBOR, Gardner’s 11th thriller, she twists the plot over and over again, giving the reader’s heart twist after twist after twist. 

Jill Smith, RT Book Reviews, raved:  "All of the characters have secrets and scars on their souls, and it’s what they do in a crisis that makes this an intensely thought-provoking and somewhat creepy novel.  Pure Gardner genius!"

This month’s Deep Editing Analysis digs into three visceral-powered excerpts from THE NEIGHBOR. 

Example:  This piece from Chapter 2 grabbed my heart.  The book opens with the disappearance of Ree’s mom and her cat.  Below, Ree, age four, asks about her dad about her missing cat.

     "Do you think Mr. Smith is okay?"

     "Cats have nine lives."

     "Mommy’s don’t."

     He didn’t know what to say. He tried to open his mouth, tried to summon some kind of vague reassuring phrase, but nothing would come out.  He was mostly aware that his hands were shaking compulsively again, and he had gone cold somewhere deep down inside, where he would probably never be warm again.

Analysis:  When you come to this passage in the book, the line, "Mommy’s don’t." hits like a wrecking ball.  Those two words ambush the reader . . . in a good way. 

Lisa Gardner amplifies the dad’s reaction. It starts with a fresh take on an open-mouth-no-words-come response.  She empowers the message and cadence with the intentional echo, ‘tried.’  I call it a Double.  She anchors the depth of emotion with a visceral hit, but doesn’t stop there.  She adds more power by taking the reader two steps deeper into the POV character’s emotional set with two Power Internalizations. 

What do those Power Internalizations accomplish?

They slip in hints of backstory, allude to how much the dad cares.  After reading the sentence, the reader knows the dad is profoundly impacted by his wife’s disappearance. 

Analyzed with my EDITS System, this paragraph is a combination of Yellow, Red Pen, Yellow, Pink, and Yellow.  If you know my EDITS System, you know you may only need a short hit or two of visceral (Pink) in most chapters.  Do not overwhelm the reader with too many visceral responses. Lisa has the right balance.  She writes multi-layered emotional responses.

You may be surprised that Lisa Gardner used vague words in the passage (vague, sometimes, mostly, probably), but they reinforce his vague reaction. Lack of specificity here is a good fit for the character and scene. 

Kudos to Lisa.  The dad doesn’t have answers for his daughter.  Lisa doesn’t have him say, "It’ll be okay.  I’ll bring Mommy home to you." This dad does not offer promises he cannot honor.

The two word stimulus "Mommy’s don’t." had a 54 word reaction.  This empowered reaction carried seven Emotional Hits.  Lisa told the reader seven times — the dad’s reaction is important. 

 Example:  A few pages later, the dad has this response:

     He clutched her photo now.  He held it to his breast like a talisman, and then his legs gave out and he sank to the kitchen floor.  He started to shake again, first his hands, then his arms, then his chest, the bone-deep tremors traveling down to his thighs, his knees, his ankles, each tiny little toe.

     He didn’t cry.  He didn’t make a sound of protest.

     But he shook so hard it felt as if his body should break apart, his flesh flyng from his bones, his bones splintering into a thousand pieces. 

Analysis:  This emotional reaction is powered with one primary visceral response, his body shaking, amplified in two paragraphs.  If you count every body part mentioned, the passage is power-packed with twenty Emotional Hits. 

Why did I develop the concept of Emotional Hits?  And why count them?

Paying attention to Emotional Hits gives the writer feedback on how much they have emphasized a point for their readers.  Lisa Gardner could have written it with four Emotional Hits.

Margie’s No-Power Rewrite: 

     He clutched the photo to his chest.  His legs went weak and he sank to the kitchen floor.  His whole body shook for what seemed like hours.

In my Four Levels of Powering Up Emotion, my version is what I call COMPLEX.  Lisa’s version is what I call SUPER EMPOWERED.  It is loaded with Emotional Hits.  She used more Emotional Hits to hook the reader’s emotions.

Lisa also loaded the passage with fresh writing, specificity, white space, telling what was not happening, cadence, creative paragraphing, power words (bone-deep, protest, break, flesh, splintering), and two rhetorical devices:  asyndeton (twice, skipped conjunctions) and simile (twice, like a talisman, as if his body should break apart).  Powerful writing.

Example:  This passage is from half-way through the book.  The dad visits the school where his wife taught sixth grade social studies.

     "Mr. Jones!"  Adele, the school secretary greeted them immediately.  The rush of sympathy in her voice, the pitying look she gave Ree, hit him in the solar plexus, and for a moment he stood there, honestly stunned, blinking at the rush of moisture in his eyes.  He didn’t have to pretend anything, for at that precise moment, for the first time, Sandy’s disappearance became real.  She was gone, and he was the grieving husband, alone with his bewildered kid.

     His knees wobbled and he almost went down, in the middle of his wife’s school looking at the linoleum she trod on five days a week, the walls she gazed at five days a week, the front desk she passed five days a week.

Analysis:  Ah!  Another example of a male character experiencing a Super Empowered visceral response.  Analyzing with the EDITS System, you see a range of EDITS colors representing dialogue, thoughts, dialogue cues, facial expressions, body language, visceral responses, and setting.  Lisa Gardner added more power with specificity, power words, the mundane, and rhetorical devices.  She ended the paragraph with epistrophe, the triple repetition of the ending, ‘five days a week.’

I refer to Lisa Gardner as the Queen of Writing Emotion. She knows how to empower emotion in dozens of ways — and she empowers emotion when it counts.  She captures emotion on the page, and captures the reader’s heart too.

My next newsletter features Joseph Finder’s VANISHED.  A psychologically-empowered read.

Want to add more psychological depth to your writing?

I teach writers how to think like highly skilled psychologists on the page.
I teach writers how to add nuanced psychological power that draws the reader into their story deeper and deeper and deeper.
I teach writers how to write page turners.

Digging Deep Into the EDITS System is offered on-line in October.  If you’ve taken these courses — Empowering Characters’ Emotions, and Deep Editing:  The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More — you’ll be ready for Digging Deep.  🙂

Lecture Packets ($22) are available for each of my courses.  Place your PayPal order through my web site, and the automated system should send the Lecture Packet within minutes.                



        Deep Editing Analysis Contest! 

       The DEA Contest WINNER is Ellen Randall! 

     Congratulations ELLEN!  Thanks for sharing fresh and powerful examples from Marcus Sakey.

       Ellen WINS a Lecture Packet from one of my six courses:

     1.  Empowering Characters’ Emotions

     2.  Deep Editing:  The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More 

     3.  Digging Deep into the EDITS System — Parts 1 and 2 

     4.  Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist

     5.  Powering Up Body Language in Real Life: Projecting a Professional Persona When Pitching and Presenting                                                                                                                                           
     6.  Defeat Self-defeating Behaviors       

    To enter the DEA Contest, e-mail me with fresh examples from published authors.

     Name Margie’s Blog Contest!     

Woohoo!  The contest has 53 entries.  You’ve got three more days to drop by my blog and post your suggestions.  My ever-talented critique buddies will fight tooth and fang to select the winner.  My critique siblings include Jeanne Stein, Mario Acevedo, Warren Hammond, Tom Lawson, Tamra Monahan, and Terry Wright.          

FIVE WINNERS!  Finalists will each win a Lecture Packet.  The WINNER is awarded two Lecture Packets ($44 vallue) and a 20 page Triple Pass Deep Edit ($120 value).      

You have one more week to enter! 

Deadline to Post Entries:  September 8th, 5PM Mountain Time.   Names of the Finalists and Winner will be posted on my blog on September 9th.       

Flight Deviation


Guest Blogging:  Every time I guest blog I give away knowledge — and I give away Lecture Packets.   Contact me if you would like me to guest blog for you or your group.

I am a Visiting Professor on the Romance University blog on Friday, September 25th.  Mark your calendar.  Post a comment and you could win a Lecture Packet.  My topic:  NYT Writing and the EDITS System.

How-to Author Series:

My How-to Author Series features Kelly Stone on September 30th.  Kelly, the author of TIME TO WRITE, has a new how-to book coming out on October 18th, THINKING WRITE.  

Post a question or comment on my blog on September 30th – and you could win THINKING WRITE from Kelly Stone or a Lecture Packet from me. Lots of opportunities to be a winner!

Mileage Points – Upgrade

Booking Master Classes, Retreats, Conferences

If you think your group would be interested in having me present a full day Master Class, a Weekend Master Class, a half-day or more at a retreat, or be a special guest presenter at your conference, please contact me My 2009 schedule is full — I’m booking 2010 and 2011. 

Smooth Landing

I hope you all fully enjoyed your summer and that you are powering up for fall.  Setting writing goals?  Staying fit?  Thinking positively?  Having fun?  Setting yourself up for success?

Take good care of yourselves.

Thank you for your time.

All smiles . . . . . . . Margie 

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