Yes Again

Hello Rosehill, we’ll see you in February.

We at Madrona Workshop Troupe have added another workshop to the calendar. February 23rd and 24th we’ll host another workshop:

From Writer to Author:
A Weekend Self-Publishing Workshop for the 21st Century

The year is coming along nicely. People seem to be busier. We’re already more than half a month into 2013 and I’m hearing about lots of projects, listening as people describe their manuscripts, and looking forward to celebrating accomplishments this year.

We like helping. It is fun!

Check around through our pages on this site.

  • Want to learn about what we teach and why? Check out the About page.
  • Want to see what you get and when during the weekend? Check out the Agenda page.
  • Want to see who we are and how to get in touch with us? Check out the Bio and Contact pages.
  • Ready to sign up? Check out the Registration page.
  • Curious about what graduates have said? Check out the Testimonial page. We look forward to adding your voice.

I’m looking forward to meeting you, teaching at the workshop, and enjoying the view from Mukilteo. I enjoy passing along what I’ve learned from over ten years of self-publishing experiences. Even more though, I enjoy hearing about your project, and helping you make it happen.

Give us a call. February is not far away. (And there’s a discount for registering early.)

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Deadline January 8th

Writers know deadlines. Whether imposed from outside or within, much of what is written is produced on a schedule. Other deadlines happen too. This one saves you money though. January 8th is the deadline for early registration for Madrona Workshop Troupe’s next event. Sign up by January 8th and get 20% off. Wouldn’t it be nice if other deadlines worked that way? Get an incentive for getting work in early. Deadlines usually don’t work that way, but one of the nice things about self-publishing is the ability to make our own rules.

My rules for my writing aren’t rigid, but they are effective. I’m managed to produce a book a year, on average, for the last decade. That could sound like a rigid yearly deadline, but the average is merely a coincidence. My most recent book, Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland, was finished in a year, but I wanted to take three. Plans in one part of my life changed plans in another part of my life. That’s a common human condition. For reasons that I’ve described in great depth over on another blog, (based on another of my books, Dream. Invest. Live.Dream. Invest. Live. my Scotland book was published when it was good enough, rather than after it was polished to a sheen. Self-publishing is empowering at times like that. There was no negotiation with editors or agents. There was simply introspection, a consideration of my personal calendar, and a subjective assessment of whether the story was good enough. To paraphrase Voltaire, “Perfection is the enemy of good enough.”

How many manuscripts languish in desk drawers, never released because life intervened between good enough and the writer’s ideal? Of course, manuscripts don’t sit in desk drawers anymore, right? Actually, I am sure they do. Most of us have manuscripts residing as arrangements of electrons in a computer; but, there are estate auctions that uncover literary works that no one knows what to do with. If you bought someone’s armoire at auction and found a folder of typewritten pages, what would you do with it? It must happen.

The dilemma that has no obvious answer is when to impose that deadline. Historical novels may have more timeless appeal, and as long as life doesn’t intervene, can be honed and honed again. Analyses of the political scene are best when fresh, and before the players leave the arena. I planned to spend about three years working on my book about walking across Scotland, but I witnessed a confluence of events that encouraged me to publish in November, 2012.

  • An editorial review came back quickly because the copy was so clean.
  • Every talk I gave about the walk was given to a packed house.
  • The photos were well-received.
  • People who didn’t know about the book, but who knew I was an author, were asking for the book.
  • My Klout score (a measure of internet impact) was rising because I was seen as an influencer about Scotland.
  • And, I could use the money.

If I was going to publish in 2012, it made sense to publish in time for the holidays. If I was publishing a paperback, the preferred deadline would’ve been August. That gives a book enough time to be printed, delivered, read, and reviewed before the main part of the shopping season. I decided to publish as an ebook, because ebooks work to a different timing and deadline. People buy paperbacks and hardbacks as presents; so, the books must be available in October. Few people buy ebooks as presents. They are hard to wrap. But, ebooks sell well after the presents are opened. Kindles, Nooks, and iPads are unwrapped, and so are gift cards. Christmas Day and the following week are the prime ebook shopping season as people deplete cards and fill readers. By publishing as an ebook I was able to spend a few more months on the words, get a few reviews in places by early December, and publish for free. For a while there, the book was in the top ten of its sub-genre. (I just checked. It’s slipped, so I should blog about it tomorrow; and yes, I have yet another blog for that.)

What’s your deadline? You may not know, yet. At least in the meantime, January 8th is a deadline. Meet it and save $44 – and move one step closer to publishing your book.

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Resolutions & Writing

New Year. New resolutions. New opportunities.

I made it to another new year. I have new and renewed resolutions. I am taking advantage of new opportunities. New. New. New. What more excitement can I a writer create for ones self! As I edited the draft of my nearly completed historical novel on New Years Day (versus my other novel I am writing simultaneously — not advised!), I also took the leap into 2013 with resolutions to have 6 short stories out this year and that book of poetry that seems to get sidelined, regularly!

Over the past few years, I have sought creative ways to self-publish, and I kept hearing the echo “you are only limited only by your imagination.” (I was a little worried — could lead me to so many places!) There is a lot of material to sift (shovel) through about the marketing aspects of self-publishing, but having separated the proverbial wheat-from-the-chaff, I have developed creative approaches.

Interested?   I am going to share target marketing approaches and activities that will hopefully lead to profit for your publication!  Remember: if readers don’t know your book is out there, they can’t buy it! 

Come join me along with Tom and Deborah on January 26 and 27 at the beautiful and new Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo. Tom Trimbath will be navigating the way through the self-publishing process based upon his experience as a self-published author. Deborah Nedelman, author, editor and writing coach will focus on the value of the revision and editing process. The complete weekend package for writers wanting to join the huge self-publishing world!

New Year. New resolutions. New opportunities. Contact: or Wynn Allen (me!) at:

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Less Than A Month Away

Welcome to the days after Christmas, when most people are settling back from a flurry of activity; except for those who are busy returning gifts, hitting the sales, or back at work. As a writer, I rarely have a day when I don’t work a bit. There are so many stories to tell, concepts to consider, and news to pass along. And, as one of the instructors for the January workshop, I’m also looking at the calendar and noticing that the workshop is less than a month away. I guess I will get busy.

(By the way, as far as deadlines go, the early bird deadline is even closer, naturally. Register before January 8th and get 20% off. Hey, it’s a holiday sale!)

2013 is when everything is going to change, or at least that’s what I’ve heard. I think that is true of every year. For us writers and authors though, the last few years and the next few years are a time for the most dramatic changes in the publishing industry. Traditional publishing is fading, or frantically redefining itself. Print on demand was a challenge to the conventional wisdom, and ebooks are challenging everything, even the linear format of a narrative.

About a month ago, (Wow, time does move quickly.) I published my most sixth ebook, Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland. It’s available on kindle, and selling well. For a while it was within the top ten of its sub-genre. Nice. Maybe it will find new heights. From my first ebook in 2002 to this most recent one, the process has become easier, the acceptance has grown, and the potential for the author has the possibility of surpassing other means of publishing.

I don’t know your story. One of the reasons I enjoy the workshops is that I get to meet passionate people and their stories. One of the other reasons I enjoy the workshops is that after two days the stories are much closer to being introduced to the world. No longer do stories have to languish through processes that take months or years. Writing a book takes long enough. Why make the process longer?

January’s workshop will be a good way to start the year. The holidays will be behind us. The wrapping paper, cleared away. The leftovers, eaten. And we’ll be in the prime writer’s season, those months when the outside world doesn’t distract and we can spend time finding those right words and their right order. And probably shuffling them around and trying again. Is writing ever easy?

Less than a month away. A month can seem like a long time, but we know time goes quickly; especially, when there are a few more celebrations and parties to attend.

See you soon. And now I’m inspired to check over my notes, and my sales. (Yes! I just sold another copy of my first book, Just Keep Pedaling. Ten years along and continuing to sell.)

A Corner-to-Corner Bike Ride Across America

A Corner-to-Corner Bike Ride Across America

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Getting Ready to Revise

Deborahs PortraitThanks to Molly Cook for her comment on my last blog post. Molly said, “All writers need to go through the revision process – looking at the manuscript again and reworking it – before even considering an editor. “ And I couldn’t agree more.

The revision process is an essential phase in the job of crafting a well-written work.

If you’re like most writers, you started your project with an idea, vague or specific, that guided your first draft. You may have wanted to tell a love story, to share your grandparents’ tale of traveling west on the Oregon Trail, to give readers a peek inside a working coalmine, or to inspire them with your personal transformation from carnivore to vegan. Whatever your initial idea when you began, chances are that idea morphed in some way as you wrote.  There is nothing wrong with that, it is part of the process of writing. The meaning of our work often does not become clear to us until we have written that initial draft, and more often, not until we have rewritten it.

Once you’ve completed your first draft it is imperative that you go back over what you’ve written and check in on that meaning. As you wrote you were immersed in the world of your book; you focus was tight and narrow. Now, you need to take several steps back and open up your view. If you are going to be able to effectively evaluate your own work, you need to first distance yourself from it. As Susan Bell says in her wonderful book, The Artful Edit, “You must achieve a transparent view of your material that derives from having emotional and psychological distance from it.

Here are a few ideas for creating the distance needed to shift your perspective and to see your work with a critical eye.

1) Time: Give yourself time. Put the manuscript away and don’t look at it for several weeks. When you pick it up again, you’ll be less familiar with it and more able to read it with the surprise of a first time reader.

2) Mode: Do your revising in a different mode than you did your original writing.  If you’re a pen-and-paper writer, type your manuscript into a document on your computer and do your revising there.  If you wrote your first draft on the computer, print out the pages and do your revising by hand on a hardcopy. Or, if you are reluctant to print out the full 350 pages of your manuscript, considerer changing the font to give the whole thing a different look. If you created the work in Times New Roman, revise it in Calibri or Arial; your writing will seem less familiar. By giving your words a different physical setting, you can change your relationship to them.

3) Space: Change your physical location when you revise. If you have one space in your home or office where you write, that may not be the best place to do revision work. Find somewhere else that has a different ambiance, perhaps different lighting or sound, so that other parts of your brain are awakened and you can nudge yourself out of any ruts associated with your work.

Once you’ve gained some distance from your work, you will be ready to begin the re-visioning process.

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Modern Self-Publishing means e-books as much as it means print-on-demand. Technology changes mean publishing and marketing changes. (Good writing has always been, and always will be, important.) E-books are evolving, and that’s a good thing – but a hard thing to keep up with. Here’s a recent personal experience.

A Walk Across Scotland

Publishing continues to change. E-books are reaching beyond their devices. That’s good for me!

Once upon a time, e-books lived within desktop computers. Yes, there was a time before e-book readers. My first e-book, Just Keep Pedaling, was published in 2002. Just Keep Pedaling It lived in a couple of formats that were cumbersome and so locked down that people had a hard time opening the files. (The remaining format is much more agreeable.) They were either read on desktop computers, laptops that are large compared to today’s standards, or on PDAs that were so small that each page only held a few sentences. I read Dickens’ Great Expectations that way, just shy of 200,000. That was a lot of page flipping.

As kindle and nook became available it was easy to assume that an e-book written for one couldn’t be read on the other. Competitors don’t play nice with each other.

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Here are some quotes from our graduates.

You guys are dynamic, personable, fun, engaging. So glad I did it!” – Angeline

It absolutely exceeded my expectations.” – Maryann

Really great workshop. I learned much & am energized to keep working & take the next step with my book!! Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!!” – Judy

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