S. M. Nystoriak's Writer's Block

A place for writer's and readers to meet!

Is the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance?

Is the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance?.


Begin With The End In Mind-Great Writerly Advice


As a writer, I like to think of myself as a plotter with pantsing tendencies. I suppose, who isn’t? But I am not the sort of writer who can easily pants my way through writing a section if I don’t know where I’m headed.

Case in point, I spent the better part of a year working on my 2013 NaNo. I was in love with the idea. I had a set of cool characters, and an intriguing story idea that was truly “out there”. Problem was I couldn’t see the end. Not really. I was meandering through the character’s lives creating scenarios for them that didn’t seem to lead to any closure. Conflict was there, sure, but no closure. I still am in love with the story idea. My characters for that one are still close to me. But it just wasn’t happening. It saddened me that these characters were stuck in limbo and couldn’t get out. I have since set that story aside…for now.

Jump ahead a year. I had an idea for a novel floating round in my head, and this idea came to me in the form of scenes. The scenes were in no particular order, simply a couple of common characters, experiencing some funny little things as part of their lives. I loved their personalities, and thought it might be time to organize their story more structurally. Problem was, once again, I couldn’t tell where the character’s would be at the end. Then I remembered: “Begin With The End In Mind”—One of the Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, book, by Stephen R. Covey.

That idea, obviously, is great advice for anyone in almost any situation. I have used the it many times in my life, especially to set goals. As a writer, it’s also true, in a very literal sense. By knowing where the characters will start and finish their journey, it makes it a lot easier to connect those dots to make a believable story (even if it’s crazy fiction).

Back to the dilemma with my new story idea. As many of you know from Twitter, I recently purchased Scrivener. It’s not that I didn’t know about it for years, it’s just that I am a PC user, and for a while Scrivener as only available for Mac. I was happy to learn it was available for me to use at this time!

Anyhow, one of the features, “corkboard”, made it really super easy to not only create plot/scene cards for my for my story idea, but once created, each plot card could be manipulated and moved around easily. In no time, I had a complete plan for my characters, start to finish.

This doesn’t mean that things won’t change as I go along; I am a bit of a pantser after all. But knowing that the overall structure is there if I need it is a big help in avoiding potential writer’s block. When I actually sat down to begin writing, I could focus on certain scenes, either in order or not. The structure for the book is there, keeping my ideas together.

Whether you use Scrivener, or Word, or any other program, if you begin with the end in mind, it can be a powerful tool as a writer. You will be less likely to plot-wander, and in my case, more likely to finish.  And who knows.  I wonder if I go back and plot out my limbo-ed 2013 NaNo using Scrivener’s corkboard, if that story and those character’s might see the light of day.

What strategies do you use to plot out your story ideas? I’d love to hear from you!

And, if you are planning to do NaNoWriMo 2014 this year, chime in! I am working on a blog mini-series I’d love you to take part in.

Happy writing, everyone!



NaNoWriMo 2014 Mini Series: Who’s In???

NaNo 1

NaNo14 is coming and I am looking for people who are committed to the endeavor to take part in my 2014 NaNoWriMo Blog Mini Series!

To celebrate the 2014 season of NaNoWriMo, I am planning on doing a little bit of Q and A with participants, right here on my Writer’s Block!  I envision the mini-series format this way:  I’ll post once during October, once in early November, and the last in late November/early December.

As a motivator to myself, as well as to help others make it through the fast and furious pace of NaNo season, my goal is to have mini-series participants answer a few questions in each post, ranging from goal setting/pantsing, processes they follow during NaNoWriMo, and reflection at the conclusion of the month.  I love chatting with fellow writers, and this is an excellent opportunity to learn from others.

NaNo 2

Whether you are a NaNo Newbie this year, or a seasoned veteran to the process, if you have already decided that NaNoWriMo 2014 is a definite, I’d love to include you in my mini-series!  Please leave me a comment below, or you can send me a DM on Twitter to express your interest.  If we are not already following each other on Twitter, my handle is @smnystoriak.

I look forward to connecting with you!


What A Wonderful Surprise!


I am so glad I had this experience!

Originally posted on S. M. Nystoriak's Writer's Block:

This past weekend, I attended my very first writer’s conference. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you realize just what a nervous wreck I was. It took a lot of convincing for me to sign up and register for the event, and it didn’t hurt that one of my Twitter friends told me he would be there as well.

I am here today to tell you all what a wonderful experience it was. I am from one of the most rural parts of New York State, and I find it very difficult to collaborate in-person with other writers. When the League of Vermont Writer’s posted about their Writer’s Meet Agent’s conference, I took a leap of faith and jumped in!

What a wonderful group of writers! I am told that this was a smaller conference for writer’s, and a really good one to get your feet wet…

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What A Wonderful Surprise!

This past weekend, I attended my very first writer’s conference. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you realize just what a nervous wreck I was. It took a lot of convincing for me to sign up and register for the event, and it didn’t hurt that one of my Twitter friends told me he would be there as well.

I am here today to tell you all what a wonderful experience it was. I am from one of the most rural parts of New York State, and I find it very difficult to collaborate in-person with other writers. When the League of Vermont Writer’s posted about their Writer’s Meet Agent’s conference, I took a leap of faith and jumped in!

What a wonderful group of writers! I am told that this was a smaller conference for writer’s, and a really good one to get your feet wet with. But I will also add, that for a small conference it was incredibly well attended! It looked like more than one hundred participants took their seats next to me at the Hampton Inn, Burlington. It was delightful to listen to wonderful presentations and take part in pitch sessions. The organizers and presenters of the event were top notch, and everything was incredibly professionally run. Also the agents on hand were amazing.

I was able to meet and network with other writers from my general area, and it was great to finally meet some of my Twitter friends. I took so much wonderful information away from the conference, I was more wired than I had been in a long time to revise as well as begin a new work in progress.

I am so glad I attended the Writer’s Meet Agent’s conference, and am thrilled to have joined the League Of Vermont Writers. I look forward to many more opportunities with them in the future!

So long for now. I am off to #amwriting!


The Biggest Query Letter Mistake


This is great info. There is an art to querying, and a specific formula to follow.

Originally posted on Carly Watters, Literary Agent:

pencilsAre you making this critical query mistake? The biggest query mistake: writers submitting a synopsis instead of a pitch.

A synopsis is the play-by-play of your novel. A pitch is a to-the-point email or letter that focuses on the hook, the conflict, and why it matters for the protagonist–and why an agent should read your book!


Some of you reading might think, “So what? If an agent wants to represent me, won’t they want the synopsis?” The answer is no, not in the query letter.

A query letter is not a synopsis. A query letter’s job is to get an agent to want to read more. A synopsis is to share when the agent is already interested, perhaps already requested your chapters, and needs to know the plot outline.

If you pitch us a synopsis and not a query:

1. It ends up being too long. A query should only be…

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2 Ways To Handle Success as A Writer


This wonderful post from Kate Brauning reminds us that success as a writer comes in many forms. Celebrate every win!

Originally posted on The Bookshelf:

Book things are finally rolling for HOW WE FALL, my YA suspense that comes out in November. We’re done with developmental edits, copy edits, and final pass pages. ARCs are out. My author website is in development, I’ve had my author photos taken and should get them soon, and I’ve got postcards and book bag buttons on the way! It’s surreal, and stressful, and fun. I keep yo-yoing between thinking “this is awesome!” and “what if no one likes it? Oh no November that’s less than 5 months away everyone will read this book I wrote what am I going to do?”

My CPs keep reminding me to enjoy it. To not let the stress settle too deeply, to keep my focus on productive things. And there’s a bit of publishing advice that goes like this: when an awesome moment happens, enjoy it, because this is as good as it…

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Goal Reached! …And New Journey Just Begun!

So happy for Kimberly!  Participating in #nestpitch as a Slush Bilbie has been so gratifying.  Read on:  Goal Reached! …And New Journey Just Begun!.

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Musings…from an Aussie Renaissance Woman


Nik Author Photo

      Today on my Writer’s Block, I am interviewing Nikola Vukoja.  I first encountered Nik on Querytracker, when the two of us were attempting to navigate the world of querying agents, trying to make sense of the process.  Since then, we have beta’d for each other on various projects, as well as become good friends.  Nik is a real go-getter, with many varied life experiences which have shaped her life path.  I know you’ll find her story interesting.


     Nik has a book out, entitled Musings – Thoughts & Reflections on Life, Love & Surviving Heartache .  She has been kind enough to allow me to reveal one of the poems and the corresponding artwork from her book (This poem is not to be copied or recreated, either as a whole or any part of, without the permission of the author):

Fruit of Life  Gouche

My Tree, My Forest, My Fears


I stand at your gate, fear is what I feel.

I stand a moment in time, memories are what I fear.

I stand within an arms length of freedom & capture.

I stand on the edge of safety or love.


You: a tall tree.

Me: a small bird.

Each: alive.

Neither: living.


Within the darkened forest, you tunnel my light.

Within humming woods, your heart beats my march.

Within each stride, hope and devastation mix.

Within devastation comes rebirth.


You: my tree.

Me: your voice.

Each: living alone.

Neither: desiring loneliness.


Among the forest of trees you stand unique.

Among the uniqueness we will thrive.

Among us will solid ground sway to our will.

Among the clouds is where we will live.


You: my shelter.

Me: the moss to keep you warm.

Each: working together as one.

Neither: complete without the other.


I walk through the gate.

I walk into the sunlight as fear frees its grip.

I walk to where frost cannot touch me.

I walk toward our future.


You: reaching for the stars.

Me: your one true star.

Each: at last free.

Neither: alone evermore.


Secure in our entwined futures.

Secure in what we share.

Secure in the past on the other side of the gate.

Secure in an endless spring of daffodils and violets.

I Hope you all enjoy what the book has to offer.  Without further ado, I’ll commence with the interview.Nik Chapbook Cover 3


SUSAN:  Hello, Nik, and welcome!  I have known you for quite a while, and love how you are sort of a Renaissance Woman; artist, poet, novelist, statistician, and animal advocate! Tell us about that.

NIK:  Oh my goodness… a Renaissance Woman; wow, can I put that on my CV lol. I don’t know how it all came about; I guess it’s my parents fault, and my grandparents and so on….duplicity runs in the family. Granddad was a Forest Ranger, a Statistician during WWII and a Singer/Musician.

Mum won a Visual Arts University Scholarship & proceeded to major in chemistry and Dad, well he’s a math’s genius, a retired Industrial Engineer and a painter and poet. So I grew up in an environment where everything was open for discussion and consideration. But I also grew up appreciating other beings, human and animal. We always had animals, both pets and for food. I was initiated into animal husbandry the way other people might be initiated into a sport… it was always there. And as a result, I learned the value of life and my duty to all life.

SUSAN:  Your chapbook embodies the Renaissance Woman idea.  It features your writings and personal artwork, with the proceeds going to help a charity.  When I was reading it, I couldn’t help but notice that the artwork and writings seemed to go hand in hand.  Have you always wanted to create a book combining those two disciplines, or did evolve slowly?

NIK:  It’s funny you should ask that, the answer is YES. In fact, I’d won a government grant some years back based on this idea. I submitted combining visual art, the written word and music (my ex was a musician) as an interactive and symbiotic relationship between all medium and genre. Unfortunately my Ex & I broke not long after I’d been awarded the grant and I had to withdraw, however, the idea remained.

SUSAN:  Musings – Thoughts & Reflections on Life, Love & Surviving Heartache is your first book, and is available on Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/448444) and Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Musings-Thoughts-Reflections-Surviving-Heartache/dp/1499263376/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403731525&sr=8-1&keywords=nikola+Vukoja).  Proceeds from the sale of your book will go to a specific charity, which is amazing. How did you decide on AnimalsAsia?

NIK:  I watched a program on Bear Bile Framing several years ago and it had a lasting impact on me. I could not comprehend why, in this day and age and with all our technology, there was a need and a place for such vile and hideous practices. Now, let it be clearly understood, I support all cultural pursuits, especially those that are dying out, for instance, the Inuit’s right to hunt seals/whales etc. However, in a day and age when we can synthesize DNA, why can not a synthetic Bear Bile be sufficient?

I made contact with the AnimalsAsia Team in Western Australia and pitched the idea to them. Lucky for me they were 100% supportive.

As to why AnimalsAsia? I know the money goes to helping the bears. Just last month (May-2014) the organisation had raised enough funds to buy a Bear bile Farm and convert it into a sanctuary.

SUSAN:  I’m excited to see where this book takes you.  What other creative projects are you currently working on?

NIK:  OK, I’m one of those people tat has at least forty things happening at once. I will be having one of my short stories publishing (2015) in a short story anthology by Fey Publishing. The profits from that anthology will go to a charity in California that looks after stray, abandoned and mistreated animals.

I’m finishing off the last bit of a New Adult Women’s Fiction novel.

I’m working on a really interesting re-tell/dark fantasy novel.

I just came up with an idea for another novel.

I’ve also just started a new BA – Professional Writing & Publishing, as well as doing quite a bit of BETA reading at the moment… and several other things I can’t mention yet, in case they don’t happen!

SUSAN:  Is there anything more that you would like my readers to know about you or your work?

NIK:  I’m a very private person. In fact, you had to ask me for a photo of myself (as you know). I don’t like people knowing much about me; except through my art. I hide nothing when it comes to my art. Whether I’m painting or I’m writing, every word is part of me, even the fantastical or the evil or the supernatural… it’s part of me, and it’s real.

I would also like to remind people of the saying that “no man is an island” – those words are never more true than if you chose to pursue a artistic career… without my wonderful friends within the writing community, people like Susan, I’d be nothing and nowhere.

SUSAN:  Thanks so much, Nik!  I look forward to your updates and blog posts.

Again, a link to purchase Musings can be found here:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/448444 and here:  http://www.amazon.com/Musings-Thoughts-Reflections-Surviving-Heartache/dp/1499263376/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403731525&sr=8-1&keywords=nikola+vukoja

As a special bonus, Nik is offering a 30% off discount code for purchases between June 21 and July 21, 2014. The Smashwords code is:  RL33S, and the 30% discount code for Amazon is 3SBRCWC6.

For any of you who are looking to contact Nik, she can be found here:

@Nik_Vukoja (Twitter)

Nikvukoja.wordpress.com (Blog)

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8330140.Nikola_Vukoja (Goodreads)





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