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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Nov 7, 2019

This episode features an interview with Valerie Francis, who is is an author, a bona fide story nerd, a Certified Story Grid Editor and a podcaster. She has published fiction for both women (love stories for busy women) and children (middle grade fantasy), and is currently working on her first thriller.

Prior to the interview Mark shares comments from recent episodes and also provides a short personal update

He also shares a word from this episode's sponsor.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

In their conversation, Valerie and Mark talk about:

  • The way that Valerie slowly evolved from a full-time corporate dayjob into a full time writing career
  • How writing was always part of Valerie's life and that she wrote her first "book" when she was 7. (It starred her teddy bear)
    - Her experience playing piano and jazz bass
  • How if she is not expressing herself creatively, Valerie can get quite cranky
  • What a StoryGrid Editor is, as well as the background to Shawn Coyne's StoryGrid methodology
  • How Valerie got involved in StoryGrid
  • The fact that Valerie learning more in two days spent with Shawn than she did in her entire journey getting a both her Undergraduate degree and her Master's in English Literature
  • The two types of services that StoryGrid editors offer
  • The commonality of how writers often resist "masterworks" in the StoryGrid methodology
  • The way that writers often consume a story by analyzing novels and films
  • The two podcasts that Valerie is involved in
  • How a StoryGrid study group has been repurposed into a podcast so that more people could benefit from the ongoing learnings
  • The difficult concept of hearing "Valerie, you are now the product" after exposing herself on a podcast
  • Valerie's comparison between running and writing, which had inspired Mark when he read about it in her newsletter
  • How all the world only sees the finished product and not all the hard work that happens in the background, for a long time, as well as the commitment from the person who has produced that work
  • Advice that Valerie would offer to the person sitting there and looking at the daunting work in front of them
  • The four hours a day, in two-hour blocks that Valerie writes in
  • Six goal-achieving activities for each day, that Valerie prioritizes
  • The advantage of being in the first time zone in Canada, two hours earlier than the most of the rest of the continent of North America wakes up
  • The most recent fiction and non-fiction books that Valerie has released
  • The 12 parts of Valerie's latest novel that can be consumed in bite-sized chunks, soaking in the tub with a glass of wine or standing in line at the grocery store
  • How, given limited physical space, Valerie decides which books she will own in print as opposed to books she has in digital format (Spoiler, any books by Neil Gaiman, Ian Rankin, or Margaret Atwood always make that cut)
  • ValerieFrancis/innercircle as a way for writers to see how Valerie is studying and learning from masterworks

After the interview Mark reflects on the comparison Valerie makes between running a marathon and a writer's process. He also talks about being re-inspired multiple times by Valerie and the value of that.


Links of Interest:


Canadian writer, Valerie Francis is a bestselling author, a Certified Story Grid Editor and a podcaster. She has published fiction for both women (love stories for busy women) and children (middle grade fantasy), and is currently working on her first thriller.

As a bona fide story nerd, her passion for the craft of storytelling led her to become a Certified Story Grid Editor in 2017. Her non-fiction credits include a Story Grid Guide to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (publication TBA) and regular articles for the Fundamental Fridays column on Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid website.

Although Valerie writes across genre, there is a common thread in her work and that is, strong female characters. Women and girls of all ages have a particular perspective on the world and it’s this point of view she’s keen to explore.

You can learn more about Valerie at:

The music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0