Firesong Arts

Developing ideas. Polishing styles. Telling stories.

Need to brush up your writing skills? Looking to craft a great story, but don't know where to start? Want advice on where and how to publish your novel? Mired in the business of writing? Firesong Arts offers coaching, editing, publishing guidance, and all the support you'll need to become the author you always wanted to be!

The Business of Writing

You wrote a story. It is a great story. You’re so proud of the work you did and you can’t wait to publish it, sell it, and make millions while you work on writing the sequel.

Only... how do you do that, exactly?

Here is a few things to keep in mind if you want to succeed at small-press or indie publishing.


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Mom Guilt; with Guest Blogger Shawna Falvey

The dry, generic voice over the podium reached Adriana’s eardrum's.

Please remember, Voting hours are today between Noon and Midnight. If your votes are not in, your calculated tax income will be used at the Governments Discretion.”

Adriana sighed, it was going to be a tight schedule with work and attending her daughters recital. Fortunately enough people voted to install more conduits for ease of access. She should be able to squeeze this weeks Tax Vote shortly before the recital at the school conduit.

She looked at her TaxTracker and took advantage of the long SkyLine ride to read up on the Solicitors Requests. The controversial Health Bill was only a quarter of a million dollars away from replacing the current legislation, Adriana has dedicated $100 each month to replacing the current Health Bill, which has left over 15 million citizens dead. Adriana had to contain the growl of anger when thinking about the latest Pox epidemic that went unchecked, again, because of a small loophole in the Health Bill letting hospitals block victims from entering their buildings. The new Health Bill closed loopholes that were designed to cater to the Priority Party members. Adriana automatically signed her name on the YES slot. She then began her research shortly after setting her app to Layman Setting.

This simple entry was 2 years in the making. I remember the moment when the idea of writing a novel hit me, it was less ‘this could be fun to explore’ and more ‘this needs to be written’. Since college, I haven’t had that drive and pure need to put a story idea into real words and sentences.

Why did this take 2 years? Simple: Kids, every excuse in the world to not do it, and what I refer to as mom guilt (being a mom isn’t required, anyone with a kid qualifies). That devastating, awful feeling when you are doing anything that isn’t about your child. It’s quite deterring for things such as showering, eating a meal, or writing a novel. Before having my son, I could sit down (ha!) and completely lose myself into what’s going on in my mind. The pictures that were so vivid in my head poured through my fingers. Now, the only pictures in my head are dinner options, bathroom etiquette and an alarmingly large library of manners that I’d forgotten and need to teach. It was as if I’d swapped brains with The Nanny, even down to the unbearable, nagging voice. Then one day my brain reclaimed part of its former creative glory. I wanted to write again. No, I needed to write again. I had ideas and the ability to write these ideas down. My son was gaining some independence by now, and life was calming down once again. By George, I was going to start!

Any day now!

Any day now...

Just as I stopped making excuses, I got pregnant. Again. Just when I’d thought of the my big break; the book that was going to put my name and talent out there. Once again I felt that little voice getting smaller, until it just hung out on the very back of the furthest burner. Mom Brain along with the everlasting Mom Guilt was in full swing, however this time that voice persisted. It was once free, it refused to be ignored again.

I remember what turned it all around; what pushed me to begin writing. My very good friend needed to write her novel and she needed her community’s help for motivation. I’ve always been a sucker for serving a community need so long as it’s not to my sole benefit, we can thank the Mom Brain for that. So, in keeping with my duty as a good friend, I offered to help. And since it wasn’t for me, I could prioritize it quite highly!

All it took was one laptop, one idea, one supportive husband, and the duty of friendship. After years of serving others, making all the meals, cleaning most of the messes, park visits, potty training, school enrolling, chauffeuring, working, playtime, character building, manner training, counseling, educating, story time, bedtime rituals, goodbye rituals, ALL the rituals and last but not least, kisses for owwies, I was finally able to sit down at a coffee shop and ignore the enormous guilt of doing something that wasn’t serving my family. For the first time in 3 years I simply wrote. I wrote 300 words that day, a huge achievement. I was pumped and felt that familiar surge of creative adrenaline. I was starving for it.

Over the month I did my best to meet with my friend once a week, and largely succeeded with only a few rainchecks, but with cold season upon us, a not-insubstantial move coming up, and some very large life changes I am now back in a rut again. I feel my little voice fading out, which is why this article exists. I fell into old habits like putting my story at the bottom of the to-do list, prioritizing my family’s needs over my own when I needed to meet my needs just as badly. This isn’t what this story is about however.

This story is about allowing your family help meet your needs, accept that you’re not the only one who gives and promotes personal growth. We raise our children to take care of themselves, by allowing them to take care of others. We partner with mates that value our time and energy we give to them and the family. So why not let them shoulder that weight? They so desperately want to, in their own ways.

This story is also about giving yourself permission to let your freak flag fly (in my case, writing a novel under a ridiculous presumption of free time) and embrace your passion. Pursuing your passion is a legitimate need. I can’t tell you how many times a day I hear the term ‘I can’t’. Sure it’s partly because I have a 4-year-old, but adults do it too. I used to write down how many times a day I’d say any variation of ‘I can’t’. In a 12 hr. period it was 47 times, so I decided to say ‘Yes I can! Yes I do have time!’ 47 times instead. This was one of those world-changing moments you guys.

If you take anything away from this silly diatribe of cliched motivationals and personal testimony, have it be this: Feed your soul. Don’t let guilt motivate you but rather excitement. Write because that little voice in your head (medication not included) makes you giddy with anticipation. You’ll be a better human, mom, dad, clan leader or whatever role you find yourself in.

 Shawna Falvey is a Mother, Writer, and cook; not always in that order. You can find her short stories and poems at

What If - The Question Of Your Story

Worst Case

One of my favorite games to play is what I call the “worst case scenario game”. It started as a mental exercise to help deal with the anxiety and panic attacks that nearly caused me to flunk out of college, but it’s a great game for stretching your imagination and following a thread to it’s conclusion. What is the worst thing you can think of at any given time? Pick that, and ask yourself “what if?” Follow that thought to it’s natural conclusion, and see where it take you.

You’re familiar with the idea, even if you don’t realize it. It works like this:

“I’m not feeling well.”
“What would happen if I skipped work today?”
“I will stay in bed and sleep.”
“What would happen then?”
“I will sleep in, but then my sleep schedule will be thrown off.”
“And, what if my schedule is thrown off?”
“I won’t be able to sleep at the normal time, and I’ll have trouble waking up.”
“What if I can’t wake up easily?”
“I will miss more work, and lose my job.”
“If I lose my job, I won’t be able to afford food.”
“If I can’t feed myself, I will starve.”
“If I’m starving, I will beg people for food...”

You get the idea. Inevitably, like a Direct TV Commercial, you begin to notice what’s called the “slippery slope fallacy”. In the example, a sore throat can lead to becoming a beggar in the streets, but that is extreme. It’s intentionally extreme to make the fallacy more obvious. But, there are less dramatic examples.

 We all know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie...

We all know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie...

“I don’t want to see my friends.”
“If I see my friends, I will have to put on a happy face.”
“Putting on a happy face is exhausting.”
“If I get worn out, I won’t have the energy for school or work.”
“If I don’t have the energy for school, I will fail my classes and drop out.”
“If I drop out, I won’t see my friends anymore, and I will be all alone.”
“If I’m lonely, I won’t want to meet new people.”
“If I don’t meet new people, I will be lonely...”

You will come to a conclusion that is either so absurd that you can’t help but see the flaws in the logic, “If I go see my friends, then it might lead to me not having any friends.” Or you come to circular reasoning where the conclusion is supported by the premise. “I will be alone,” and “If I’m alone I don’t want to meet new people.”

 This type of logical fallacy is called "begging the question." It is when you assume the answer in the premise of the question. Not to be confused with "raising the question”.

This type of logical fallacy is called "begging the question." It is when you assume the answer in the premise of the question. Not to be confused with "raising the question”.

This game is an amazing tool for overcoming moments of anxiety that hold us back from exploring some the most interesting parts of life, because at some point, the argument collapses in on itself. When you can see the fallacy it becomes easier to accept it as a lie told by fear and anxiety. I used it a lot to help me get through some of my rougher patches.

But do you know what else it’s good for?

What is your what if?

Every good narrative starts from a basic question. There is a place where all good stories start, and a natural progression to the telling of a well-crafted tale. Everything that happens to your protagonist, every twist and turn and eventual outcome stems from the basis of you, the writer, asking the same question over and over again.

“What if?”

When you’re crafting a new story, you might have a great idea for a character, or a setting, or even a plot hook, but unless you’re one of those people who has a natural talent for spewing forth magical plots without putting any thought or attention into them, then inevitable your mind will keep turning back to this question.

Your plot rests on it. Your characters are sustained by it. Your momentum thrives on in. Without “what if” your story can’t progress; answering this question is how a well-crafted narrative moves from one point to the next.

 "What if there's a hobbit-eating magical tree in the middle of the forest?"

"What if there's a hobbit-eating magical tree in the middle of the forest?"

It starts with what I call the “big” what if; the question that forms the whole focus of your story. “What if an ancient evil holds the key to killing off all the free people of the world?” Answering that question will give you and idea of what story you’re trying to tell. Then you follow it up with “smaller” what if’s, until you have a premise. “What if the free people are waging a war for their survival? What if the key to destroying this evil once and for all rests in the hands of the most unlikely of heroes hidden in a forgotten backwater part of the world?” When J.R.R. Tolkien answered these what ifs, we ended up with the beginning to The Lord of the Rings.

You can do a lot with this question.

Daydreaming Is Work

Rather than a hobbit, your protagonist may be a spunky 14-year-old middle-school student with psychic powers. That’s great, but that’s not a story until you ask “what if something happens to them?”. When you begin to explore this question your story unfolds. “What if it’s midterms, and Jim uses his psychic powers to pass an exam?” Will he pass? Will he get caught? Will the power prove to be overwhelming and addictive? Does he read the thoughts of the wrong person and end up failing anyway? The first “what if” question is where your story starts, and the way you answer the subsequent questions is how your story takes shape.

The best part is, it is absolutely low risk. This is a mental exercise. If you don’t like where the what if’s take you, just find a new answer. Start over. Ask the question again, but from a different perspective. Until you actually start your outline (or your story, if you’re a pantser), you have the unlimited capability to change your mind. At this point, you’ve wasted nothing but ideas. And ideas are never wasted.


Ask yourself “what if”. Some answer might come easily, and some you might have to work for. But follow the answers to the end, and you’ll see what kind of story comes out of it. I think you’ll be surprised at what you can find.

What is your “what if?”


September Writing Challenge! 2017

In September, I challenged my fellow writers to challenge each other!

The goal was to get people writing. Anything. Everything. Challenges were to be specific and include a word-count or a time-limit, genre, and premise. It was a bit of an experiment to see what we could come up with in just 30 short days.

Check out the winners of this years challenge below, and be sure to join in the fun next year, when we do it again!

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The Oxford Comma; Pet Peeve or Industry Controversy?

Look, we’ve all read articles and seen videos ranting about the Oxford Comma. That silly little extra punctuation mark that differentiates between a list or an inclusive grouping in relational clauses. It’s a simple argument pertaining to the simplification of grammatical structures in the modern English language. And right now you’re thinking, who even cares about this stuff? Apparently, a lot of people, and in truth, I’m not sure why either.

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