It’s My Story and I’ll Write ‘Cause I Want To

Since I turned in a book nearly two weeks ago and am almost ready to buckle down on finishing the next one, I have been plotting new stories. This writing business overlaps itself and could make the sanest person’s eye twitch. While I’m working on one story, I need to have one or two others under consideration on an editor’s desk. Also while working on a story, I get edits and author alterations for a previous one. By the time a book is actually in stores, I’ve usually written one or two more, plotted a couple, and worked on cover art information. So, while I have a book on the shelves right now, I have to go back and remind myself what it’s about to promote it. LOL Or read it if I’m asked to join a reader’s group for discussion! Don’t laugh.


My friend Bernadette has been my critique partner practically ever since we joined RWA the same year in 1988. She remembers everything about every story anyone writes and can keep it all straight. She scares me. I scare myself. I read or critique for another person and forget what the story was about within a couple of weeks. I justify that by saying I simply have too much on my mind to retain it all.  Don’t blow my comfort level by disagreeing.


On Friday night I served lemonade cake and tossed out the spin-off character I wanted to use. I needed a hero. (You’re singing now, right?) We often use Pam McCutcheon’s brainstorming cards because they give us themes and traits for a starting point. I’m not sure how this hero developed, but I’m loving him! He’s an ex-bounty hunter out to settle down and find a community and a husband for his younger sister. He’s on a train bound for a peaceful town in the Colorado Territory when the train is held up. My heroine expects him to do something…. When the smoke clears, the town’s new hero is recuperating from a bullet wound at her family’s home. This is going to be so much fun. I don’t have a working title yet.


I am a writer who appreciates a good critique group or partner. I’ve been in a critique group for all the years that I’ve been published–and most of those in a group that meets every single week. We go through stages: Levels of productivity, trying out techniques that work, members moving away and, of course, our process of screening a replacement.


It’s serious business, this critique group thing. You don’t invite anyone who isn’t compatible. You have to respect the people who are going to offer comments on your work. For me it has nothing to do with published or unpublished; it has to do with work ethic, knowledge or willingness to learn, and enthusiasm. And another creative brain ain’t nothin’ to turn up your nose at. I love my other brains during the brainstorming process—or when I’m stuck. Sure, I come up with the ideas on my own, and I put the pieces together and make all the decisions and write the story, but I only have one brain and one life experience. Getting feedback from other writers who have different perspectives and who understand the process of story writing make their contributions invaluable.

Some writers don’t like anyone else meddling in their stories—some find it changes their story too much. I go into the process with chosen elements I won’t budge on, so the possibility of taking my story a wrong direction isn’t a problem for me. I’m flexible about everything else because new perspectives keep me fresh. If a writer in my group makes a suggestion for someone’s story that isn’t considered, it’s not because the thought was a bad idea; it’s just because that idea didn’t work for that particular story. There are no wrong ideas. We all understand that and nobody gets her nose out of joint.

These people are my best friends.  We share other things besides writing, and when someone moves away, we stay in touch.  But we always remember why we are friends.  We’re together because we’re writers, and our goal is to help each other write the best stories possible.  Thank you to the clever writers who have critiqued with me over the years! If you’re one of them, shout out a HOWDY!


THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS is in stores now.


CLICK HERE to watch a trailer for The Magic of Christmas! 



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21 thoughts on “It’s My Story and I’ll Write ‘Cause I Want To”

  1. Cheryl,
    I love the idea of a brainstorming group. I am fortunate to have a writer friend that I brainstorm with on the phone. It’s great.

    I, too, am at that delicious place where I can start developing new ideas that have been perking in the back corners of my brain. It’s an exciting place to be.

  2. Hello Cheryl…I’ve been watching for you to blog! I just had to tell you that I found a few of your books and LOVED LOVED them!!

    I recently read..THE GUNSLINGER’S BRIDE (Montana Mavericks) and THE DOCTOR’S WIFE …I found a copy of these and was so excited! I read them both very quickly and they were both great stories! I’d already read THE TENDERFOOT BRIDE and loved it as well!

    Thanks for all the great books!

    oh..and BTW: can you tell me where I can find the other Kincaid stories?

  3. I think that is a fun way to do it,sounds like you girls get work done an enjoy each others company too,I love christmas books cant wait to read the new one,thanks

  4. I am so envious of this, Cheryl. You sound like you know what you have. I am so ALONE out here, which is one of the reasons I love this blog and my online friends.

    The quiet of a writer’s life can echo in your head sometimes. Echo, echo, echo, echo.

    I love talking to other writers. There’s just a weird lingo to it that no one else quite understands.

  5. Hi Cher- I loved seeing your history of critiquing in pics! Waving hello to PAM!!!

    It’s a great thing to surround yourself, if even for a few times a month, with people of like mind. I had a critique group once, and dear Tanya is my critique buddy now. But I find that I write too much, too fast to really be involved in a larger group. By the time my work is critiqued, I’m 3 chapters ahead. But I love plotting with others. PLOT is a four letter word for me, something you do beautifully. Your stories always have such wonderful twists and unique story lines.
    What a fun blog today!

  6. Hi Cheryl,

    I LOVE the trailer for your Christmas book!! It’s just perfect and lets the reader know exactly what each story is about in just a few sentences. The lady who designed it did a magnificent job!

    Also, the tidbit about the story you’re working on captured my attention. I can tell by your excitement that this is a special story. Bounty hunter heros are one of my favorite kinds of men. They’re tough and strong and full of grit. Can’t wait until the book comes out.

    A wonderful blog! 🙂

  7. I love the pictures! I like seeing the progression of your critique group over the years.

    Cheryl is amazing! She plots beautifully, writes beautifully. I could go on and on.

    PS, I am still laughing over the short-lived idea
    of a Preacher/Bounty Hunter saying: “There is some good news!” to the bad guy.

  8. Because, Pam, we WERE young and thin! LOL

    Hey, *lizzie and Sherry! We had seevral good laughs – and this hero went through a complete metamorphasis – when he was a bounty hunter turned preacher he could say to the bad guy: “There’s bad news and good news. The bad news is today you die. The good news is you can be with Jesus!” LOL

    Linda, yes, this is a delicious part of the story process!

    Yes, Vickie, we have fun working.

  9. Gorgeous pix, Cheryl. It was so fun meeting some of the fillies in SF; I missed you.

    Charlene and I for quite a while had a little critique triumverate…but our dear friend Paula moved to North Carolina. We miss her. And Charlene is way too kind. She critiques my scribbles to be sure…but she helps me a bazillion times more than I help her LOL. She’s so good.

    I can’t wait to get your Christmas book. I have some favorites that I bring out every holiday time and know this one will be a keeper. Gonna go watch the traile. Hugs to you.

  10. Thank you so much, Melissa! I love hearing that you’re enjoing my stories.

    The other 2 historical Kindaids would be A CONVENIENT WIFE by Carolyn Davidson and WHITEFEATHER’S WOMAN by Deborah Hale

    You’ll probably have to check amazon .com
    My copies are AUTOGRAPHED!

    Have you read any of the other Montana Mavericks? I have them ALL!

  11. Mary, I DO appreciate my writer pals, that’s for certain.

    Thank you, Karen!

    Charlene – I WISH I was three chapters ahead of last week’s stuff – yikes. You are a fireball.

    Hi Tanya! Those Christmas stories are comfort reads, aren’t they?

  12. Cheryl,

    I actually have read A CONVENIENT WIFE by Carolyn Davidson and I really enjoyed that too..I like her writing style!

    I need to read WHITEFEATHER’S WOMAN too and will look for it on Amazon (dontcha just love Amazon? LOL)

  13. Cheryl, your critique group sounds great! I wish I had more writers around here to hang out with. I’m with Charlene on critique groups, though–I write so fast that no one has ever been able to keep up with what I need from them. (Hurry up and read it already, man, it’s already been twenty-four hours! LOL) I do have a writer-buddy that will brainstorm with me at a moment’s notice, so I love that!

    Great pics! 🙂

  14. Great pictures of a great group! I’m one more
    reader who loves Christmas stories! Add a baby to the mix and I’m in reader heaven!

    Pat Cochran

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