What I Do (as a Book Shaman)

My purpose in life as a book shaman is to help you evolve your story into the highest form it can achieve. As a member of a species of storytellers, I believe every human can learn to develop and deploy the craft and magic of words. The adventure of telling tales regardless of form or substance is a joyous, endless journey. The pinnacle of story we should all aspire to are inspirations that transcend us and live long after we are gone as part of our collective human legacy.

We learn by doing, and I can help. You can do this.

For the record, my area of specialization is dark fantasy, paranormal, and urban fantasy. While I love big idea books, cozy mysteries, and all the other genres (I’m a literary omnivore), I have editor peers who are better suited for those. If necessary, I can introduce you to them.

Bring me your blood and gore and magic. I’m all about the sexy, the swords, and definitely the sorcery.

Depending on what you need, we can proceed in several ways:


Chat Around the Campfire (Free)

If you’re curious about how story editing can accelerate your development as a writer or just have questions about how to take plain old every day words and imbue them with magic, I’m happy to chat with you around the campfire.

For free. (Free for the first call only—I have to feed my wife and kids, after all.)

This way we can get to know each other a little and determine if we’re simpatico.

Pick an available spot on my calendar and we can videoconference for half an hour or so.


Hire Your Novel Cartographer

If you don’t have a completed novel yet or if you’re having trouble coming up with a “workable” idea, I will help you develop a roadmap and I will help you pack for your grand adventure in novel writing. There is no magic wand. Sorry! But having a strong one-page synopsis to guide you will make the journey much less terrifying and the monsters lurking in the shadows easier to avoid.

At the end of this work together, you will have:

  1. In depth story consultation by video conference with yours truly.
  2. A complete one-page synopsis for a working story in your genre.
  3. A map to guide your journey of writing a satisfying story.

The real magic of storytelling is difficult juju to master, but you can do it if you’re willing to learn and do hero’s work.

Sign up for a free chat, if you haven’t already. During that initial call, we’ll agree on the parameters of what you need to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities to level up as a story wizard in your own right.


Engage Your Book Shaman

For the book shaman (me) to work his best magic (a Story/Manuscript Diagnostic), you need a completed manuscript draft to begin. If you’re quite not there yet, I can still help as a story cartographer (above). But if you’ve already typed THE END on the last of your pile of pages and you’re ready to get an expert opinion on how “ready” it is, this is where the magic happens.

Although there is no formula for success, I have studied story alchemy with the best. As a practitioner of the Story Grid method for my own books, I know its power. The Diagnostic is proven method for evaluating a story draft (and redrafting as necessary) through an incremental process to develop a story that works. You can read more about the Story Grid Diagnostic methodology.

When we finish this adventure together, you’ll have:

  1. The 6 Core Question Analysis
  2. A Story Grid Spreadsheet of your first five scenes
  3. Masterworks of the genre recommendations and additional resources
  4. Next steps recommendation letter
  5. A one-hour phone consultation to discuss the deliverables

This work will teach you how to apply the principles of storytelling and assess the level of your own work. This is the best place to start if you have a story whether it’s Level 1 or Level 5.

Pick an available spot on my calendar and we can videoconference for half an hour or so before we get started.


Invoke Your Story Witchdoctor

If you have a Level 3 or higher manuscript AND you want to make it even more powerful, you need the strong medicine of the witchdoctor. Whether your dream is traditional publication by a Big 5 publishing house in New York or to join the meritocracy of Story Grid Publishing (that is the future of novels, in my opinion), the Intensive is the magical rite you need.

This sorcerous working is the Diagnostic on steroids. Everything that is part of the Diagnostic (above) is part of this Intensive plus a whole lot more:

  1. The 6 Core Question Analysis
  2. A Foolscap Global Story Grid One Sheet
  3. A full Story Grid Spreadsheet of the entire manuscript
  4. Masterworks of the genre recommendations and additional resources
  5. An analysis of Conventions and Obligatory Moments for your novel…the ones you met (and the ones you didn’t)
  6. A Heroic Journey 2.0 analysis to evaluate how your work meets the universal, unconscious, genetic, human expectations of all twenty stages of our ancestral metaphysical monomyth
  7. Next steps recommendation letter
  8. One month of Story Grid-based developmental editing (at least one hour-long check-in per week and a wrap-up call to discuss the deliverables)

With these spell components in hand, you’ll be prepared to level up your manuscript to query, pitch, or publish—whichever your goal may be.

Pick an available spot on my calendar and we can videoconference for half an hour or so before we get started.


Summon Your Literary Spirit Guide

There and back again is not a sojourn. It can be an arduous, lonely odyssey. I will warn you: Writing every book is hard. If you’re doing your best work, it never gets easier. Anybody who says otherwise is a truly gifted savant, a snake oil salesman, or a demon. (I’ve never met a savant novelist. If you have, please introduce me.)

Although every book requires work, it doesn’t have to be lonely.

If you’d like to hire an experienced and trained story sherpa to brave the journey with you, I’m your Samwise. Or your huckleberry. Or whatever metaphor you like for the guy who’ll help you by holding a lantern when you’re struggling through the dark. The peer mentor who will challenge you to be your absolute best when you don’t think you can go on. You can.

I’m not a guru that lives on top of Book Mountain. But I’ve been to the summit where the Muses hide and snuck away with a finished manuscript more than once. I haven’t won the Literary War. But I have my fair share of battle scars fighting Resistance in the creative trenches every damn day to make new stories.

I can help you get to the top and win some of your own battles, too.

This is a long-term Intensive as described above—over and over and over. This is the never-ending adventure. It is an investment in your storytelling craft and your career as a writer. It is not for the faint of heart. The cost of a masterwork novel can only be measured in blood, sweat, and tears…and (maybe) a piece of your soul.

That is the only path I know to Level 5.

If you’re willing and able to hire me, I can help you avoid many of the traps, pitfalls, and ambushes along the way.

If you haven’t hooked up with me (virtually speaking) to chat, then let’s do that first and see if we’re compatible adventuring companions.