Lawson Academy Live and #ROW80

So how did I spend my last several days? Well, on Saturday I was privileged to attend a workshop with writing teacher Margie Lawson hosted by the Houston Writers Guild. Margie walked us through how to add power and emotional depth to our manuscripts.

Here’s a sample of a passage in my middle grade contemporary novel before and after. In this scene, 7th grader Beth Whittaker admits that her father is an alcoholic. But Beth doesn’t want to discuss it any further with her mom.

Before (1st Draft): As I spoke, Mom made her way over to me. She shut the refrigerator door and pulled me toward her. I pushed away, as tears gathered in my eyes again. “I’m not hungry anyway,” I said shakily. My mother’s arms enveloped me, as I tried to gently push back.

After (Revised): She wouldn’t leave me alone. She wouldn’t let me shrug off the terrible truth. She wouldn’t give me the yardstick of personal space I clung to like a force field. My mother crossed the floor, pierced my perimeter, and trapped me in her arms.

I had worked my way through some of Margie Lawson’s Deep EDITS lessons, but this was a good experience through which we critically analyzed passages by other authors as well as our own work to strengthen our editing skills. If you get a chance to attend an event with her, I’d recommend it.

Plus–what a bonus!–I got to each lunch and dinner with Margie and several writers, including the fabulous Lori Ann Freeland. What a pleasure to meet in person writers you’ve admired online!

Not super-excited about how I look here, but we had a great time!

Now on to my ROW80 goals:

Editing: SHARING HUNTER, young adult contemporary novel.

  • Complete full rewrite. Rewrote four chapters last week, so I’m very happy with how this is going.
  • Revise using Margie Lawson’s Deep EDITS system. Once I finish the rewrite, I’ll edit through with this approach.
  • Deliver to beta readers. Waiting for the first two.


  • Post Sunday ROW80 updates, Amaze-ing Words Wednesdays, and Deep-Fried Fridays. Done, although I flew by the seat of my pants on Friday’s post. Having flooring installed in my house two days of the week interfered a bit with my schedule, but I love the result!
  • Send interview questions to two guests I have lined up for my blog. 


  • Write two short stories. I aimed for 1k on this goal and only hit 597 words.



  • Nothing special here. Just read. A lot. Finishing No Apology by Mitt Romney. (Read Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama in 2008. I like reading the presidential candidates’ books to see where they’re coming from.) Also  started 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.

Non-writing goals

  • Exercise twice a week. Nope. And in fact, I went to the doctor on Friday and saw a number on the scale I hadn’t seen since my last trimester of pregnancy. My lovely doc’s response was that, hello!, I need to exercise!
  • Sort through photos and complete at least one album. (I stopped scrapbooking five years ago, and it’s piled up into a big mess. Moving into digital albums.) No progress this week. It was really hard to work on it with the floor installers here.

So how are you doing with your goals? Have you attended any conferences or workshops lately you’d recommend?

Be sure to cheer on my fellow ROWers! You can find them HERE.

19 thoughts on “Lawson Academy Live and #ROW80

  1. I love the before and after you shared, Julie. The second really does pop! So glad you had a great time. 🙂

  2. Great progress on your goals, Julie! Keep at that scrapbooking goal. That’s one that should be on my list–I keep up with very little of it now. The more I write, the less I scrapbook. My second child is woefully under-represented in the albums. :-/ You’ve inspired me to take a look at that neglected set of projects.
    Thanks for the edit examples. It sounds like you learned a lot and had fun.

    1. Ugh. I feel like such a slacker mom for neglecting the scrapbooks, Diana! I was the baby of my family, and there were fewer pics of me than the others. I now understand how it all happened. Parents get busy and tired and caught up and… But I do want to get back into tracking those treasured memories.

      Best wishes with your projects!

  3. Margie’s workshops are great, aren’t they? The hardest part of working thorugh her EDITS system is actually getting through it in a reasonable amount of time. Good luck with it, and have a great week!

  4. Wow, Julie, great job on the edits! I’m looking forward to reading more!

    I’m up to my neck in classes right now–taking Kristen’s blogging for brand class and Marcy Kennedy’s logline class, but they are so helpful, I just have to find the time to do them. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! Kristen’s blogging class is wonderful. Can’t speak to Marcy’s, but I know she’s great. Hope you can squeeze in the online classes. Enjoy!

  5. Julie, I was so excited to get that tweet from you! I’m delighted you got to spend some time with Margie – she is magic. And you met Lori!!! So completely jealous. 🙂

    Your after ROCKS. I can’t wait to see Margie in 2013. She is my goal for the year.

    1. Thanks, Jenny! It was like the heavens opened and angels descended when I realized that I could rewrite that passage with what’s NOT happening to describe what IS happening. I like it much better too.

      Now to just apply some magic to the rest of my manuscript, which will take a little more time and effort than wand-waving. 😉

  6. The before and after are fascinating, well done, Julie. 😀 You must still be smiling all over. New floors, very nice. You had a great week, especially when you consider all you had going this week. Here’s to more great days of edits and a fabulous week.

    1. Getting new flooring is like moving all over again because you have to remove everything outside and inside the furniture, which led to the realization that WE OWN TOO MUCH STUFF. :p I’m hoping that clearing out some of the clutter before it goes back will also clear out my head and allow me to get more done. (A truly clean desk would be a novel thing for me!) I’m eager to get to editing now. Thanks, S.J.!

  7. Wow, you are in the groove. I’m hoping to be up to my eyeballs in edits the first of 2013, after a successful NaNo run. 😉 Hope editing continues to go well. I’m going to have to look into Lawson’s book. If only there were more hours in the day…

  8. My favorite phrase from the revised version is “pierced my perimeter.” Really love seeing the drastic change. I enjoyed the first version, but the second is so visceral! Great job. 🙂

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