[Wyrd Words Weekly] I slay those doubt demons, but the tech gremlins got me!

Hello Reader,

You might notice that today's newsletter is just a teeny bit less colorful than past installments. That's because the tech gremlins got me this past week. Apparently Outlook users received a very unreadable black-text-on-purple-background email last week--my sincere apologies (and thanks to everyone who reached out to let me know!). While the tech gremlins sort themselves out, I've changed the template a bit so that hopefully everyone can read without eyestrain or stress. If you ever have issues like this, please do let me know! I value this community so much and I want you to stick around.

This week was one of those weeks that reminds me why I do this book coaching thing in the first place. I kicked off the week with The Wyrd Words Workshop's First Monday coaching call. In just under two hours, we covered fantasy trilogy structure, how to differentiate voices when writing multiple points of view, we workshopped a pitch for a fantasy short story, and I coached a memoirist around how to narrow in on her story's heart. It was just the sort of magic I'd hoped we'd make when I launched the workshop and I left the call energized by the thoughtful discussion and I know workshop participants did too.

On Tuesday, I launched Week One of Story Scaffolding to a group of eager writers from IWWG. We tackled reverse outlining--what it is, different techniques for reverse outlining, and how it can help us understand our stories and improve their scaffolding. Not coincidentally, I'll be teaching a shortened version of that lecture for this month's Craft Magic Webinar. So if you're curious about how reverse outlining might help you finally get a handle on story structure, join us for Revision Revolution: the Reverse Outline on March 18. Register for this affordable $25 webinar--my last one for 2024--which will be recorded for those who can't attend live on March 18 at 4pm Pacific: https://pages.julieartz.com/products/revision-revolution

Over the past decade or so, I've gotten a bit of a reputation not only for lengthy edit letters (just ask my critique partners!) but as a bit of a query wizard. That's probably due to reading close to a thousand queries over the years, but also because I spend so much time geeking out on what makes story work. It's also why my writing pals often come to me if they're not getting agent or editor buy-in on a new story. That's exactly what happened this week when a colleague asked me to take a look at the pitch package for her thriller. Although I read the opening chapters, I had an inkling of the problem after reading the pitch, and knew exactly what the issue was about halfway through the synopsis. I'm pretty excited for her book and she is too now that she has some solid, actionable feedback on how to make the various pieces work together as a cohesive whole. Next month, I'm rolling out a brand-new, low-priced product that's going to help bring my method of pitch analysis to a larger community of writers, so watch this space. I love how it's coming together and I think you will too, especially if your WIP is close to reader-ready.

I wrapped up my week with our local monthly author social followed by a brainstorming session with my critique group on a new urban fantasy short story I'm pretty excited about. I'm pitching it as Good Omens meets Finland's epic poem, The Kalevala, although as with so many stories, it's a love story at heart. If you're alone out there, slogging through your novel and longing for a writing community you can brainstorm, commiserate, and celebrate with, Round 7.5 - Second Chance Romance - is open this month only. Register for this free critique partner matching service here: https://pages.julieartz.com/cp-meet-cute

What I'm Reading

I appreciate everyone who reached out about my "Redefining Canon" edition of "What I'm Reading" last week with their stories and book recommendations! Since I didn't get any hate mail, I'm going to go with it. This week, I'm revisiting a book I read in the past and offering it up as a replacement for one that isn't being taught in schools, per se, but is certainly a cultural phenomenon for fantasy readers and others thanks to the popular HBO series: Game of Thrones.

Listen, I was one of those fans who set aside my Sunday nights to watch Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister navigate the treacheries of The Seven Kingdoms. I watched it beginning to end. But it also got my hackles up again and again as episodes did not pass the Bechdel test (an episode passes only if women characters spoke to one another about something other than a man in the episode) or relied on fridging a female character--raping, murdering, or otherwise harming a woman to give the male characters the impetus to explore their man pain and seek revenge. It's a story told by a man that centers the male gaze, and while that makes sense in our cultural context, it's also not the only option.

So I present a trilogy of equally epic scope that explores environmental destruction, the legacy of oppressive power systems, and humanity's tenacity in the face of terrifying odds: The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. The trilogy begins with The Fifth Season, which has won just about every fantasy award out there. I truly believe Jemisin is doing some of the most innovative and powerful writing in speculative fiction today, so if that floats your boat, check her out.

Happy reading!



Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

Julie Artz works with both award-winning and newer authors across the publishing spectrum from Big Five to small and university presses to indie and hybrid. She is an Author Accelerator-certified Founding Book Coach, a sought-after speaker and writing instructor, and a regular contributor to Jane Friedman and Writers Helping Writers, and a regular instructor for AuthorsPublish, IWWG, ProWritingAid and more. Her work as a Pitch Wars and Teen Pit mentor, a former SCBWI Regional Advisor (WWA), and her memberships in The EFA, the WFWA, AWP, and the Authors Guild keep her industry knowledge sharp. A consummate social and environmental justice minded story geek, Julie lives in an enchanted forest outside of Redmond, Washington, with her husband, two strong-willed teenagers (when they’re not off at university!), and two naughty furry familiars. She’s built a thriving book coaching business based on her values, her editing chops, and her knowledge of story. Check out her weekly newsletter, Wyrd Words Weekly, and subscribe today.

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