We’re Ashmae and Kathy, professional writers who know what it’s like to want to write a book—and to also feel intimidated by it. We've both successfully written books we're proud of, and we want to help you experience the same excitement and relief of holding a finished manuscript in your hands.
Author of One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly, A New Constellation
"For years, I wanted to write a book, but actually doing it felt overwhelming. I even wished aloud that someone would just tell me what to work on.
That wish came true in the form of an editor for a book I was invited to write. The accountability and perspective he provided were vital. The book I wrote was all mine, but I actually finished it because someone was there, witnessing my work, believing in my project, and expecting me to hit my deadlines.
That first book unlocked things in me and led to more opportunities, including a second published book."
"Even though I grew up wanting to write books, I wrote for years without ever finishing one. Fears got in my way.
In the meantime, at my copywriting job, I ended up helping to edit, publish, and promote multiple books that weren't my own. Walking through the writing and publishing experience with someone else's work demystified the process. After that, I finished my own novel, a memoir, and a children's book.
Writing a book is a transformative experience. But it's also a simple process that you are totally capable of completing."
Author of published essays, unpublished books, editor of The Child Whisperer
"Ashmae and Kathy are safe, engaging, and inspiring teachers. Their writing exercises and encouragement have pulled words out of me that I feel proud of."
“I have taken several online writing courses from various places and Mine to Tell has been my favorite. Ashmae and Kathy are amazing instructors and have set up the course to help you, beginning to end, pursue an interest in writing in a personal and insightful way.”
"Writing my own story with Mine to Tell was one of the most powerful acts of permission I've ever given myself. I felt like I was being split in pieces to observed my own grief and rage and joy... paradoxically, it was an act of becoming whole."
—Laurie Frost Stradling
Overcome writerly self-doubt
What stops you from writing your book is not lack of skill or time. The top book-writing blocks are internal. That’s why our program guides you through powerful emotional work to free you up to write. Imagine writing not just a paragraph but a whole book with the confidence that what you have to say actually matters.
Use your writing time wisely from the start
Ever sit down to write and feel aimless or overwhelmed? So have we. Aimlessness is not necessarily the result of a bad idea or bad writing; it’s a sign that you missed a step. Before you start your book (and along the way), we’ll walk you through simple framing exercises that will make it easier to write. This is NOT outlining. It is articulation about your project that helps you know what to work on, so you can finish your book faster.
Actually follow through on your writing goals
It’s easy to set a huge word count goal and then miss it—especially if the only person you’re accountable to is yourself. There’s something about an assignment from another person that helps you take things more seriously. We’ll give you a schedule, check in on your word count, and help you honor the time you need to write your best possible book.
Get expert guidance for your specific book
You don’t need advice that could apply to just any book—you need help with your unique writing. The live lessons in this course include writing exercises that further your work and give you opportunities to ask questions along the way. If you choose, you can also sign up for personalized feedback and guidance calls.
Finally finish your book's first draft!
Ultimately, this 4-month program is designed to help you write a 50,000-word draft of your first book. It’s a first draft, so it won’t be perfect. But it will exist. You’ll finally have a complete manuscript in your hands that you can do something with. No matter what happens after that, the story you’ve been carrying around inside you will be in a tangible form. We can’t overstate how exciting and relieving that experience is.
This 16-week online program runs January 19 - May 6, 2021. If you follow the program schedule, you will finish a solid first draft of your book.
Packet of pre-writing blueprints
Before the program begins, you will receive a downloadable packet of prompts and questions that clarify your book project for you in a way you've never done before.
8 Mine to Tell writing lessons
Writing techniques aren’t worth much if other issues keep you from writing in the first place. Every other Tuesday in this program, we hold a 90-minute class that helps you quiet your anxieties, look at writing fresh through small exercises, and keep your motivation high—even through that messy middle of your book draft.
4 Writer Talks from published authors
We give you checkpoints, but acknowledge that everyone’s process to arrive at those points is a little different. We’re bringing in 4 writers to share their book-writing journeys so that you can see different ways to apply and personalize the tools we give you.
First draft writing schedule
To write a book, you need to write a certain number of words every week. But the questions you ask at 3,000 words are different from the plateau you hit around 18,000 words. With notes we've taken as we've written books, we prepared a guide and weekly mantras to help you through common blocks you'll hit at each milestone.
10 Ways to Get Unstuck
There's a point in every book project—usually near the middle—where everything turns mushy. Sentences sound repetitive, chapters feel ridiculous. It almost seems like the project is hopeless. When you hit it (and you will, so take heart!) this brief guide of prompts will help you through it so you can make it to the end of your draft.
Video recordings of all lessons
We host all lessons and Writer Talks live—and we encourage you to join in for personal interaction. But we do record everything so you can watch later if you can't attend a session at the time.
Personal goal-setting call
Articulating your intention to someone else brings power into your writing. In a personal, one-on-one session (either on the phone or on Zoom—your preference), we ask you clarifying questions to set up your draft for success. We also help you identify personal barriers to be mindful of while writing. We're excited to help you feel confident about your book from the start.
1 call / 30 min
1 call / 30 min
Expert guidance calls during the program (30 min each)
The greatest breakthroughs often come from bouncing ideas off a fellow writer who's also an invested listener. In these personal calls (either phone or Zoom—your preference), we talk with you 1-on-1, review your writing, discuss your frustrations, and ask thoughtful questions that help you dislodge what is stuck, so you can make more progress in less time.
2 calls / 30 min
4 calls / 30 min
Final next-steps call at the end of the program
At the end of the program, we meet 1-on-1 (phone or Zoom—your preference) to help you assess your progress. We also discuss next steps for revision and your goals for publication, so that you're pointed in the right direction once the program is finished.
1 call / 30 min
1 call / 30 min
Instructor feedback on your personal writing
At two points in the program, we'll read a portion of your book and talk personally about it with you during one of our calls. We are practiced in reading a piece of writing, seeing what's working, what isn't, and sharing encouraging comments about both. People in our past courses have said personal feedback has been one of the most useful parts of joining us.
10 pages total
50 pages total
Personal weekly word count check-in
Accountability! Sometimes the only thing that gets the writing done is a deadline set by somebody else. There are no grades for reporting your word count each week, but there is a whole lot of momentum and encouragement that will move you forward.
Access to private Slack writers' group
Facebook is exactly where you should NOT go when writing a book. So instead of hosting a typical Facebook group, we've created a focused group on the app called Slack, to connect you to writers who are as invested as you are. It's organized by topic so conversations don't get lost. And we'll spend office hours there to answer quick questions that can't wait for your next personal call.
How to run a writing group
We aim for this program to fuel your writing for much longer than just 4 months. In this video, we share successes and pitfalls of our own writing groups, so that you can have more success in yours.
Two 25-pager calls
In these hour-long personal sessions near the middle and end of the program, we discuss 25 pages of your writing at a time. We'll bring encouraging notes about what we read, questions to unlock further writing, and careful attention to help your book become what it is meant to be.
BONUS: Final online reading
The magic happens here. At the end of our program, we host an online reading, where you can read aloud a brief section of your writing to the group. Every single time we host one of these, it has felt like a celebration that is so connecting and meaningful.
Here's the thought that stresses us out: What if a book is calling to you—but you never write it?
In our experience, time is running shorter than you know. Don't wait. If you feel drawn to tell a story, tell it, whether you sign up for our program or not. That story is trying to get your attention for a reason.
(IMPORTANT: Circle B & C seats are limited because of their extensive one-on-one time. When you sign up, we’re committing our first 4 months of 2021 to you! We’re also saying no to someone else who might otherwise take that spot. For those reasons, Circle B & C seats are transferable, but not refundable for any reason. If you need added clarity to make sure we're the right mentors for your project or writing style, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will always be honest about what we can do for your project.)
What genre of book is The First Draft for?
Any genre—from non-fiction to fiction to poetry. We have both taught and edited non-fiction and memoir extensively, but Ashmae earned her MFA in poetry and Kathy earned her MFA in fiction, so we are equipped to help you with whatever book you're called to write. The 8 lessons will discuss craft and help you remove personal writing blocks, but they will not address fiction-specific topics (e.g. plot, dialogue) or poetry (meter, line break). If you are writing a novel, you will get the most out of this program by signing up for the personal guidance in Circles B or C. If you write in the sci-fi, thriller, or romance genres, we're not your best option for help.
When will The First Draft start and end?
This 16-week program runs from January 14 through May 6, 2021. On January 1, we will give you your packet of pre-writing blueprints that you can work on before the program begins, and we will conduct goal-setting chats with Circle B & C writers the week of Jan 14. Our first group class will take place on January 26.
What if my book draft is already part finished?
First of all: Congratulations! You made it farther than many people get. Much of this program can help you. The 8 lessons in particular will help you overcome self-doubt and practice skills that improve your writing at any stage. That said, this is not a revision course. It focuses on generating new work and finishing the first draft. If your goal is polishing your book, we can better help you in a future program dedicated to editing. If you're drawn to this program, chances are, you have more than 1 book in you. This program gives you the chance to complete another draft, collect new techniques, and give your current book some space before you go back to edit it.
How do I attend this program?
This program is hosted all online, so you can join from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection. We host all live classes on Zoom. (The personal guidance calls for Circles B & C can be held via Zoom or over the phone—your personal preference.) All the links, recordings, and information you need are included in your program dashboard when you register.
Will The First Draft help me publish a book?
The work of writing a first draft and looking for a publisher are two very different activities. This program focuses on writing, though we do aim to help you write toward publication if that is your goal. So, no, we will not be talking about publishing in this program, but if you join us and write your draft, you will be welcome to join us in a future session where we revise.
Is this for new or experienced writers?
This program is specifically designed to help people who are writing their first book. But if you’ve already written a book before, we can still help you. Because this program works through a lot of the personal blocks to writing, skill level is not as important. No matter your level of experience, we’ll help you write without getting bogged down, overwhelmed, or discouraged.
How much time will The First Draft require?
Writing a book takes some time. To reach 50,000 words, you'll need to write roughly 3k words—or 12 double-spaced pages—per week during this program.
We recommend you set aside a minimum of 5 hours per week. This makes space for both weekly sessions online and your writing. If you can't or don’t want to set aside that time, please don't sign up. We also don't recommend The First Draft if you have a major life event planned (e.g. moving, marriage, baby, new job). We want to set you up for success!
What if I find this program is not for me?
Circle A registration is fully refundable for the first 30 days of the program.
Circles B+C are transferable, but not refundable. Here's why: When you sign up, we commit our first 4 months of 2021 to you. And we're saying no to someone else who might take your spot! In our experience, commitment works wonders for taking your writing seriously.
If you’re not sure if we’re the right mentors for your project or writing style, email us. We'd love to help you know if this program is the right fit for you. email@example.com
Can I purchase The First Draft as a gift?
Absolutely. And can we just say: You win. When we were first starting out, a gift like this would have made us swoon. Good for you for supporting the person in your life who wants to write a book!
If you want the gift to be sent to the recipient right away, put in their name and email address when you check out and they'll automatically have access.
If you want to deliver the gift later, use your own name and email at checkout, then email us with your gift recipient's name and email so we can enroll and notify them on the date you choose. firstname.lastname@example.org
"Mine to Tell was given to me by my daughter as a Christmas gift and it was a little outside my comfort zone. But I have learned so much and I believe my writing will be better because of it. Ashmae and Kathy the teachers and both very gifted writers, reminded me of yoga instructors - so kind and encouraging and offering alternative "poses" for those of us who lacked confidence in our abilities. I would highly recommend this class for anyone who feels the urge to write and needs encouragement both from wonderful instructors and a community of writers all with different stories to tell."
In fact, it’s the reason that Mine to Tell exists. Ashmae created the curriculum for a writing course, and she wasn’t going to do anything more with it until Kathy called her. As things got going, Kathy wrote a page to promote the course, but hesitated to publish it until Ashmae suggested just putting it out there.
If we hadn’t motivated each other to create this program together, Mine to Tell would still just be a document on a computer. Collaboration and mentorship can get you farther than you would go on your own.
If you’re ready to write a book, we’d be honored to help you put that draft on paper by May 6, 2021.
You’re capable of it. We know it.
~Ashmae & Kathy