• Mark Meier

One of the things which grieved me when Linda and I were married is her reluctance to produce art. She was an accomplished at painting in oil, acrylic, and watercolor. She brought a number of her paintings to our marriage, but for some reason she didn’t do anything with it after we married.

I didn’t know why. It bothered me a bit. I was ready to put aside some space for her to paint, but she didn’t seem interested.

Fast forward about fifteen years.

She published her first book, Davy’s Days, a children’s book. She hired a local artist (noted for her paintings of cranes - the bird, not the heavy equipment) to illustrate it instead of doing her own artwork. Then her second book, Davy’s Adventures, also by that same artist. Linda is a good artist, so why didn’t she do her own illustrations?

When she started putting together Eleazar and Friends, her previous illustrator seemed reluctant to work on it - for various reasons I won’t go into. But Linda stepped up and did her own illustrations. I think they turned out nicely, but I may be biased.

She explained:

“I misused my ability and God removed it from me. When Del Lucka didn’t want to illustrate Eleazar and Friends, we both prayed for me to regain that talent. God was good.” (That’s a paraphrase, not a direct quote.)

So Eleazar and Friends is now available. It’s a children’s story and activity book with coloring pages, connect-the-dots, word searches, and more. Kids love to interact with the stories they read (or have read to them). Eleazar and Friends is perfect for that purpose.

I’m proud to call Linda my wife, and proud she calls me her husband.

There's an interview with her here, starting at about 15:40 into the video.

You can find the links below here at the Meier Writers hub by clicking Kids Stories in the upper right corner, or directly at the links provided.

Davy’s Days

Davy’s Adventures

Eleazar and Friends

  • Mark Meier

Over recent months I’ve been watching a lot of videos on how to write. Most of them repeat things I’ve already heard, but occasionally I’ll hear a bit of advice that’s new - or at least said in a way that makes it new to me.

I’ve toyed with doing videos like that, but there seems to be a glut of Seven Things Agents Hate, Six Ways to Get Noticed, or Nine Tips on Effective Fiction Storytelling. The only things I could tell are simply a retelling of what’s already out there.

I just came across a FB post from an author on the verge of reaching a milestone for her FB Page. “When I get there, I’ll give you tips that might contradict what you know.”

Seriously? With all the videos giving advice about how to format a manuscript, you’re going to tell us what we’ve learned might be wrong? (BTW, simply follow the guidelines of the publisher or agent as specified on their website. You can’t go wrong with that.)

One of the things I’ve learned in the last few years is that technical perfection in writing isn’t (1) achievable, or (2) really that important. What’s important is to show you have a grasp of the language, can tell a gripping story, and find a publisher who thinks they can make money on it.

That’s pretty much it.

If there are rules, they’re something like this:

1 - Don’t tick off the folks who decide.

2 - Learn and love the language.

3 - Tell a good story.

That’s it. The rest is beyond your control. Write a rude query letter, you’ll get rejected. Write something difficult to read, you’ll get rejected. Tell a boring story, you’ll get rejected.

The guidelines listed on agent and publisher sites boil down to making the manuscript as easy on the eyes as possible. White space is important, but if you think an agent is going to get out a ruler to make sure your margins aren’t a tenth of an inch outside the mandate, you’re mistaken. If your line spacing is 1.9 instead of 2.0, they’ll never notice if your story is good.

When you have a boring story, or is too similar to the other thousand books in your genre, your 2.0 won’t save you from rejection.

I’m not telling you to ignore the guidelines. If you’re too far outside the limits, it’ll be noticed and will become a tick toward rejection. No sense committing an unforced error (see my rule #1 above).

Write what you like.

Rewrite the story (until you can’t make it better).

Edit the story (until you can’t make it better).

Submit the story.


Sooner or later you’ll submit something the gatekeepers think will earn them money.

  • Mark Meier

A little over a week ago I wrote a post about outlining, and this morning I may have turned into a born-again outliner.

I’ve been planning and plotting a series I’ve decided to call The Archives. The stories won’t be written in chronological order, but rather which one speaks to me most when it comes time to work on one. This first one to get significant work is about a woman named Neora, and takes place about a quarter of the way through the ten thousand years of my overall story.

So after outlining Neora last week I went to work on another story - The Brotherhood. When walking our Bichon Frise (named Stitches, AKA The Dog Who Would Be King) this morning, I realized an entire half of my story is merely a lead-up to Neora. The real story arc belongs to another woman, named Amira. She’s part of the story from beginning to end.

If I hadn’t outlined, I might not have realized that for months. By that time I’d have a significant portion of a first draft, and have to dump most of it in the trash. (I’d really have saved it. I don’t think I delete anything I write.)

The beginning of the story has Amira and her husband watching a red dwarf star flare, killing hundreds and wiping out cropland in the “grain belt” of galactic civilization. Now that I’ve realized the story is really about Amira, I can build my story about what that flare means for HER instead of Neora.

Stephen King is a big proponent of seat-of-the-pants writing. “Put your main character in a difficult spot and discover through your writing how they deal with it.” But what if you get half-way through the story before you realize your main character isn’t who you though it was?

The King model may work well if your story is a one-off. If it’s part of a massive series, it’s hard to see that leading to success.

So scratch the novel of Neora. Welcome Amira to The Archives.

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