Hey Writers,

One of the most common questions David Farland was asked, was "When do I begin approaching agents?"

Very often, writers asked him to introduce them to agents or editors--they were hoping to get a book deal.

That's not how it works.

People can point you in the direction of the door, but what you really need, is a sturdy "battering ram."

A solid "battering ram" will have you bursting through publishers' doors.

What is this battering ram?

Check out David's article "Building a Better Battering Ram" for more insight.


The Triarchy Method of Story: by September C. Fawkes will be closing soon.

This amazing class will teach you how to improve your story. Sign up before it's too late. Class starts March 7.

Craft your best book by focusing on what matters most: The “bones” of story.

This content-focused course will help you:

  • Brainstorm better and more relevant material
  • Evaluate what ideas most belong in your story (preventing you from writing hundreds of pages that need to be scrapped), and
  • Craft a page-turning plot with compelling characters that sticks with readers long after they’ve closed the book (. . . and hopefully leads them to preorder your next book).
  • And more

This live, online class is limited to 10 students. Classes start March 7 and run Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 pm Mountain Time (8:30pm EST) for a total of 23 classes. Classes ends on May 25.

For more information, visit

About the Instructor

September C. Fawkes has worked in the fiction-writing industry for over ten years and has been editing stories for longer. She has edited for both award-winning and best-selling authors, as well as new writers. She has worked on manuscripts written for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers, and specializes in fantasy and science fiction.

For seven years, she worked through New York Times best-selling author David Farland, providing feedback on his workshop students’ assignments, editing their manuscripts, and sometimes, even editing David’s own books.

When not working, she is running an award-winning writing tip blog. She has also served as a writing coach on Writers Helping Writers and teaches at writing conferences. Some may say she needs to get a social life. It’d be easier if her fictional one wasn’t so interesting.

📌 The Scoop about this past week on Apex’s Strategy and Mastermind

The week of Feb 20, Apexers got to:

  • Deep-dive on how to capture our story brilliance—plan, structure and organize, with Brenden Pugh - WRITE YOUR NOVEL WITH NOTION,
  • Learn about MAKING YOUR MAGIC MATTER and how with C.R. Rowenson & Michael Thayer; and
  • Understand WHY WRITE SHORT STORIES with John M. Olsen.
  • and have a dialogue started about SHARPENING YOUR SHORT STORY SKILLS with Lyn Worthen on the Apex Writers Facebook group. Lyn will be presenting this topic at a later date.

STRATEGY (2/20/23) Brenden Pugh showed us more about what Notion can do for organizing, structuring & writing your novel with his Storybook: Master Novelist | Notion Template for Writers, which he created and he is giving Apex member a 40% discount bringing the cost of this dynamic multi-page template to $15. For more information click. The coupon code is APEX.

Notion is another tool available for writers, companies, project managers, etc. It’s a lego-block all-in-one workspace where you can write, plan, collaborate and get organized. There are many templates and tutorials on the web to get up to speed and Brenden recommends THOMAS FRANK EXPLAINS YOUTUBE CHANNEL to get you going if you're stuck.

MASTERMIND (2/20/23)

C.R. Rowenson & Michael Thayer talked about the importance of having your magic baked into your story, not bolted on, and why doing it right means paying attention to clever ripple effect and more. Some of this presentation's highlights include:
  • How to connect the magic to multiple obstacles, conflict, theme, the cost, characters, etc., along with giving concrete examples along the way.
  • Ways to tap into ideas and inspiration for your own magic systems with some simple questions like: “Wouldn’t it be cool if…..?” AND “I only I could….”
  • Resources like Sanderson’s Laws of Magics
  • And a list of don’ts and the whys.

MASTERMIND (2/25/23)

Due to a scheduling conflict, Lyn Worthen wasn't able to make it but John M.Olsen stepped in with WHY WRITE SHORT STORIES. This presentation covered all writers from the unpublished to those making a living doing so.

Some of the examples included:
  • more networking,
  • learning to get to your point quickly and with an economy of words,
  • it’s fun,
  • get to experiment with different styles,
  • accumulate fans and have your name published with big names
  • and more.
John gave us some resources to find where to find places to submit to and stressed the importance of creating some of tracking document or spreadsheet so we know what’s been submitted, when, and payment. The presentation elicited some fantastic questions at the end!

Replays are either up or will be soon.

Sharpening Your Short Story Skills Discussion.

Because of a scheduling issue, Lyn will be presenting at a later date but in the meanwhile she is opening up short-story related questions (in general, not about a specific story) on the Apex Writers Facebook group. She opened the conversation with:

    I don't mean how to type reasonably grammatical sentences, but learning to create characters who become so real that readers feel like they know them, want to spend time with them (or avoid them, as the case may be). Create settings so rich and vivid that we can feel the twin suns on our faces or taste the salt spray of the surf crashing on the rocks as we zip down the coastal highway.

    And I'm not suggesting padding your prose with a lot of vague description. An acquisition editor (and a reader) will see through that in a heartbeat and move on to the next story in the queue. Study technique, study theory, and then practice learning to write characters and settings by reading lots of stories and writing lots of stories. You've got to put in the time, just like you would if you were learning to play a musical instrument or excel at a sport.

    Whether you're writing a story set in the present-day, real-world or one set on a world entirely out of your imagination, if you can make me believe it, make me feel like I'm there, I'm much more likely to keep reading. And the longer I keep reading, the more likely I am to buy it.

Join in the conversation! Lyn is a great resource to tap.



Monday’s (3/6/23) Strategy Meeting - Mark Leslie Lefebvre - PUBLISHING WIDE specific talk, title forthcoming

Monday’s Mastermind, (3/6/23 at 7 pm MT/ 9pm ) - Savannah Gilbo - How to Write Compelling and Well-Structured Scene!

Savannah Gilbo is a certified developmental editor and book coach who helps fiction authors write, edit, and publish stories that work. She’s also the host of the top-rated Fiction Writing Made Easy Podcast, where she delivers weekly episodes full of simple, actionable, and step-by-step strategies that you can implement in your writing right away. When she’s not busy crafting her own stories, you can find Savannah curled up with a good book, a cozy blanket, and her three furry partners in crime.

Saturday’s Mastermind (3/4/23) - Tim Storm - Taxonomy of Tension

Tim Storm is an award-winning writer and teacher whose work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Black Warrior Review, Copper Nickel, and Literary Hub. His passion for storytelling and its inner workings informs his teaching, editing, and mentoring. He runs an online writing school ( ), which offers articles, courses, and a monthly writing craft club, all geared toward helping writers create engaging and moving stories.


 📌 PLUS, we have a great line-up coming up:

  • Lisa Cron, story analyst, speaker and author of WIRED FOR STORY and STORY GENIUS will be presenting “Hardwired for Story” on Monday, March 20.
  • Donald Maass, literary agent and CEO of the Donald Maass Literary Agency and author of the BREAKOUT NOVEL and THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT IN FICTION will be presenting “The Emotional Craft in Fiction” on Monday, April 10.


WANT TO SEE WHO IS ON WHEN?? Check out the links below.

Mastermind at a Glance

Strategy at a Glance


Partial reprint from email from last week announcing all the winners.

Our First Place winner— Jen Bair, Congratulations!

It is our distinct pleasure to introduce Apex’s new official logo!

Apex's SFF topic for the week (2/28/23 at 5:30 pm MT / 7:30 ET) is:

Naming things .... how we use names for characters, places and anything else to world build but mostly to make it easy for readers to read. In other words, 'what's in a name when writing fantasy and science fiction'. What tools do we use to name. What do we think works and what doesn't.

And 'if' we have time: How do you find the right literary conventions to attend? Who should you try to connect with? and why.

To learn more about SFF and/or how to join, contact Monica or Jan.

READING FOR WRITERS (an Apex affiliate group)

The next two meetings of Reading for Writers are:

March 16th--Octavia E. Butler: Dawn.

April 14th--Naomi Novik: A Deadly Education

Dawn is the first book in Octavia E. Butler's Xenogenesis Series. This is a 1987 classic Science Fiction novel of note, and the Xenogenesis series is seminal. A powerful exploration of identity, humanity, and race, this is a book well worth reading.

From the back: "Lilith's children will inherit the Earth and stars. But they will be more—and other—than human."

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik is subtitled as Lesson One of The Scholomance. Released in 2020, this is an example of contemporary, mostly well-received YA from a best-selling author. Universal studios have optioned the series. There has been some criticism of poor diversity representation, and that could be interesting to explore in our conversation. However, it is possible that offending material may have been already removed from our current editions. The fact that readers can express concern and text can be altered so quickly is another topic worthy of discussion.

From the website: "With flawless mastery, Naomi Novik creates a heroine for the ages—a character so sharply realized and so richly nuanced that she will live on in hearts and minds for generations to come."


Handy Links

The Course and Lecture Searchable
Strategy at a Glance

Mastermind at a Glance

Searchable Index for Strategy

Searchable Index for Mastermind

Apexer Connections


📌 Shout-out to some of our Apexers for this week!

  • To C.D. Lombardi and Jamie Sonderman for achieving their official Farland Fiction Coach certification!
  • To Bill Eckel for his 5 out 5 star review on Amazon for his book, HARD KILL!
  • To Joshua Dyer for signing a contract for one of his dark fantasy short stories! The anthology’s release should be this summer. More info to come as he’s able to share.
  • And to Mike Wyant Jr for completing his final book in the #anisianconvergence!

📌 If you have success news you’d like to share about yourself or another Apexer, please email Tammy  and have Apexer Good News in the subject line. We’d love to do a shout-out!!


Every week Apex members have informative meetings with two Mastermind interviews/presentations with industry experts, Strategy meeting to give the tips and tools to better serve your authoring life, Accelerators meeting focused on how to up your game, along with group meetings featuring craft and marketing discussions, writer rings, networking, support, accountability, sprints, and more. Plus, there are hundreds of hours of Teachable videos.

Visit for more information.

And, to participate in these events, all you do after joining is to click on “Upcoming Events” for the zoom links.

Copyright © 2023 David Farland: Story Doctor, All rights reserved.

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