Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Writing Guru Caleb Warnock

Welcome back everyone. If you haven’t already, make sure to read Part 1, G is for Gardening with Caleb Warnock. I’m still here with Caleb Warnock. I’ve been attending his writing classes locally for six months, since mid-October 2011, and I can honestly say that if I hadn’t, I would not have been picked up for publication. My writing would still be falling under the category of long lost word files. Caleb doesn’t believe in sugar coating, except on his chocolate. But his tell-it-like-it-is attitude is something that, for me at least, promotes growth once the dead weight is burned away.

Betsy: So Caleb, if you wouldn’t mind, give our online audience a quick breakdown of your writing credentials. As in why the heck should we listen to you, aside for the whole best-selling author bit?

Caleb: Well you can check out my blog at for my full curriculum vitae and see a full list of credentials. But here’s a few highlights. I’ve won over 20 awards for my writing, including the David O McKay Essay Contest. I’ve been nationally published for the past 13 years, including publication in The Writer magazine. As you’ve mentioned, I currently have a bestselling book and 7 more book contracts -- two of those co-authoring with you, Betsy. I’ve taught at UVU, and U of U, and I’ve owned my own writing school at for the past 13 years as well.

Betsy: Haha. Ok ok, we’ll trust you. What the biggest difference you see in newbie authors writings as opposed to experienced authors?

Caleb: Hmm, I was having a conversation just the other day about this actually. I see a huge difference in the writers that write for fun and the writers that write to put food on the table. I belong to the latter group. I tell people I’m a retired farmer. I grew up digging ditches on a farm and retired at 19. Writing is what I love to do, and I’ve learned that when you’re forced to produce or starve, the writing improves dramatically. It has to be good to sell. There is a difference between being a writer and simply wanting to be a writer because you get excited to hang out with authors and talk about writing.

Betsy: What’s the biggest hurdle for an unpublished writer to overcome?

Caleb: Fear of failure. Giving in to all the voices, both in your head and not. Giving in to the discouragement because you didn’t get picked up by an agent on your first try. People don’t often realize that it takes blood, sweat, and tears. Most authors don’t just plunk down a story and wham, you’re a bestseller. It’s like being a concert pianist. There may be a virtuoso once in a blue moon, but most musicians have to practice and hone their craft for years and years before they even consider playing to sold out crowds. Being a bestselling author is the equivalent to selling out Carnegie Hall. You have to work for it.

Betsy: What advice would you give to someone who has five partial manuscripts in their drawer and dreams of becoming an author, but is afraid of rejection. (This was me).

Caleb: Go to a writing class with a teacher who will tell you the truth, and not just tell you what you want to hear. If your story is collapsing, help is out there. I had a teacher at BYU, and when she died, her obituary said she had three manuscripts in her drawers. And she had never been published. If that happened to me, I would be so mad I would come from the grave. Don’t let anyone write that in your obituary. Go find some help.

Betsy: In a previous post, I mentioned that a friend has nicknamed me the Voice Doctor. Well, I would have to nickname you the Plot Doctor. Everyone comes to you because their stories have collapsed in the middle. Why does that happen, what’s the diagnosis?

Caleb: Because no one has ever taught them how to structure a story, fiction or nonfiction. People think writing is creative, To not plan out your story would be akin to picking up a brush, putting it in some paint, then putting it directly on the canvas-- with no idea of what you’re going to paint. That’s the fastest way to ruin a canvas and a story. Artists sketch and plan. Writers plan and plot. You have to know where your story is going before you put pen to paper. I teach people the bones of plotting and structuring stories.

Betsy: You have taught a weekly writing class for writers of all skill levels for the past four years. But not everybody lives in a place so easily accessible to a mentor such as yourself. How can someone in the sticks find their own Guru. (hint hint...shameless plug).

Caleb: Well, I have online writing workshops for $50 a month. If people are interested they can email me at I’ve been teaching those online workshops for 13 years, and those classes got bigger after Becca Fitzpatrick, author of the national bestseller Hush, Hush was a student and thanked me in the acknowledgements of her fantastic book. The class has also helped published authors like yourself, Nebula award winner Eric James Stone, and many more. Just this year, I put all of my writing workshop lessons on Kindle and Nook. There are eleven booklets in all, part of my What Every Writer Should Know series. Each is $9.99, which far cheaper than you can get them through me, mostly because that’s as much as Amazon would let me charge. I think is a tremendous value, but I’m biased. The lessons cover just about everything. Marketing, Query Letters, PlotShop, Narrative Voice, and more. I think the first two lessons anyone should pick up are PlotShop and Creating Narrative Voice. These can save your stories.

Product Details  Product Details 


Thank you to all my readers from both Mormon Mommy Writers and this blog for stopping by. And thank you to Caleb Warnock for taking a few minutes out of his insanely busy schedule to sit down and chat with me. Below I will list the places once again where you can find Caleb and his books. Also please feel free to leave comments. Even if they’re about chickens.

The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers


  1. So very good. I have been in some of Caleb's workshops and he is very good. Congratulations to him and his accomplishments. Best wishes to both of you.

    1. Great interviews Betsy. Both have given me, a newbie writer something to really think about. Someday I hope to be a "puts the food on the table" writer. I have two wonderful mentors who have been loving and caring and really encouraging. Thanks to them for helping me to finally take that big step into my dream of writing and thank you for your blogs.

  2. Anna and Mary, you two are quite accomplished yourselves. Mary, for being a newbie, you have quite a few notches on your belt. And Anna, your elven series sounds fantastic. Who's up for extending the day to 48 hours so we have more time to read great books?

  3. Replies
    1. I thought you did live in Utah County. I was hoping to meet you :)