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Clients Crushin’ It: Dominique Mielle

Madison Utley interviews Dominique Mielle financial phenom, self-identified daredevil, proud Franco-American ahead of the release of her first book Damsel in Distressed: My Life in the Golden Age of Hedge Funds


Speaking to me now, in March 2021, just months before her memoir is set to be published by Simon & Schuster, debut author Dominique Mielle admits: “Was I confident we were going to pull this thing off? No. I certainly had my doubts.” 

Long pause.

“But not in myself.”

This. This is Dominique Mielle: a woman with a straightforward commitment to hard work, to staying true to herself, to surrounding herself with excellence. It’s not a matter of conceit, it’s a matter of fact. 



The confidence is certainly warranted when you consider who Dominique is; she joined a little-known hedge fund in the ‘90s, and stood decades later as the only female partner and senior portfolio manager running what had swelled to become one of the largest hedge funds in the U.S. 

At the end of this impressive career in the “golden age of hedge funds,” Dominique retired; but, rather than coast (if it’s not yet clear, this isn’t a woman we should ever expect to coast), she circled back to her early aspirations of becoming a journalist. She thought of her recurring column for Forbes. She thought of her contributions spanning just about every publication in the financial sphere. She thought of writing a book; and so, that’s what she set out to do. 

Dominique was sure that her voice – breezy but intense, bright but unapologetic – would add much-needed depth to the male-driven narrative dominating the hedge fund industry; she describes her tone as being loosely-inspired by Sex and The City and has been known to quote Samantha Jones on occasion (“I love you, but I love me more”). 

“I knew I had developed a distinct voice,” Dominique explains. “I knew I could nail a 1,000-word piece, but I didn’t know how to carry that into a 60,000-word book. It was clear to me the first step was finding excellent help.”

True to form, Dominique would accept nothing but top-shelf guidance in making her book a reality. She found it in the second writer she reached out to. Enter: Stuart. 

“Contacting just two writers is really not a lot. But with Stuart, we connected from the beginning. And that was it,” Dominique says. 

“This is a relationship that matters. You’re spending a lot of time with and energy on this person. I even just remember thinking, ‘This is someone who will laugh at the same jokes as me.’  Building trust matters. This is a person you’re entrusting with your story.” 

The wisp of a reservation Dominique harbored upon partnering with Stuart at the start of the project what she describes as her “natural skepticism” sure to arise when allowing an unknown quantity into her process was dashed in the earliest stages of working together. The moment of certainty came in receiving the first draft of the manuscript; then and there, Dominique remembers realizing, “Stuart is someone excellent.” 

Rather than the external help tainting or suppressing the integrity of her story, each stage of the Book Architecture method was crafted to capture the best of what Dominique had to say, helping her voice carry true and strong throughout the manuscript a dynamic clearly exhibited in one of my favorite excerpts from the upcoming book:

Lehman filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008 and was eventually liquidated. Christine Lagarde, who was Finance Minister of France at the time (the first woman to hold such a position in a G-7 country), and went on to become the Chairman of the International Monetary Fund (the first woman head) said the following…. 

And I am not citing her because I admire her sense of fashion, although I do, or because she is French, although she is, or even because she was a synchronized swimmer as a child, and I have a weak spot for incongruous amusements. 

I quote her because she might be right: ‘If it had been Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, the world might well look different today.’”

While Dominique initially considered the writing process to likely be the primary takeaway from her book project, the refinement achieved through each draft made getting her manuscript published feel increasingly achievable. And, here we are. 

Damsel in Distressed is the first hedge fund memoir written by a woman. In it, Dominique’s inimitable blend of intelligence and humor is used not only to provide insight about what it’s like being a female hedge fund manager in a business dominated by men, but to make clear she is “unwilling to be minimized by genderism.”


Pre-order Dominique’s book here, ahead of its August 24th release.

Scrivener & The Book Architecture Method

Please welcome Book Architecture’s guest blogger and award-winning author  – Ray Daniel!


Stuart Horwitz’s Book Architecture trilogy, Blueprint your Bestseller, Book Architecture, and Finish Your Book in Three Drafts, delivers a powerful framework for writing a novel.

Scrivener, the software package from the company Literature and Latte, is a powerful software tool that combines word processing with outlining, research storing, and task management to create a single novel-creating platform.

One would think that there would be powerful synergies between a novel-writing software tool, Scrivener, and a novel-writing creation tool, Book Architecture, and one would be correct.

This blog shows one way to use Scrivener to manage the Book Architecture process.

Since it’s easier to work from example, I’ll be using my third Tucker Novel, Child Not Found, and parts of my fourth Tucker Novel, Hacked as examples of a novel built using Book Architecture and written in Scrivener.

The Binder

The binder is the perfect place to begin, because it organizes all the information about your project into a single place. The binder for Child Not Found looks like this:



image2The first thing to notice is that my binder contains the three drafts Stuart outlines in Finish Your Book in Three Drafts. The messy draft, method draft, and polished draft each have their own folders. I didn’t actually write three drafts of the novel. I generated the material for the novel in the messy draft, and then duplicated the messy draft to create the initial version of the method draft:


Here we see the first place where Scrivener intersects with the Book Architecture method: draft management. Rather than have separate word processing documents for each draft – or even worse, one document that keeps changing – we have a place to store each of our drafts so we can refer to back to previous drafts as we move forward.

As we see here, we copy the messy draft to create the method draft. But where did the messy draft come from? It came from Blueprint Your Bestseller’s Action Step #0.

Step #0: Generate Material

Generating material is the first step in the Book Architecture method. There are many ways to generate material and Blueprint Your Bestseller discusses several of them. One of the most basic ways to generate material is to start at the beginning and simply write the book into a word processor. This results in a long document containing your entire novel.

Organizing Material into Scenes

If you’ve generated material, and need to bring it into Scrivener, you can import and organize your novel into scenes. Blueprint Your Bestseller encourages writers to cut up their scenes as Action Step #5. I suggest, for reasons that we’ll see, that Scrivener users do this as Step #1.

Scrivener makes it easy to cut your scenes. You import your book into Scrivener (perhaps with copy and paste) and then use the Split at Selection command to split the document into two documents:


You place your cursor between two scenes and use the right mouse button to split the scene at the selection. This gives you two scenes that you can name. You keep working your way down your document until you’ve “cut up” all your scenes.

Generating Material in Scenes


While Scrivener makes it easy to split a novel into scenes, I recommend a different approach: generating material scene by scene. That is, you create a separate document for each scene and allow Scrivener to compile it all into a book. You can set Scrivener to compile your scenes however you like.

My books have one scene per chapter, so the compilation process is simple. But you can use folders to combine several scenes into a chapter and several chapters into parts.

Generating material scene by scene in Scrivener has the obvious advantage that you don’t need to split your manuscript into scenes later on. It has additional advantages in that it is satisfying to finish a scene and move on to the next one, and that you can use icons in the binder to add orienting material to your manuscript such as acts, beats, sequences, and days. For example here are the scenes that make up my most recent Tucker book, Hacked.


Analyzing Your Scenes

The first five steps of Blueprint Your Bestseller help you analyze your scenes:

  • Brainstorm Your Scenes—Make a list of your scenes from memory.
  • Your Good Scenes—Highlight the good scenes, those that are done for now.
  • Your Bad Scenes—Highlight the bad scenes, ones that need work.
  • Your Forgotten Scenes—Note the ones that skipped your mind.
  • Cut Up Your . . . we already did this.

You can do all this with Scrivener’s Label feature. Each scene has a programmable Label field which you can see in the Inspector on the right side of the window:


You can program the label with the words Good, Bad, Forgotten, and even Putrid (If you want to go beyond Book Architecture’s recommendations.)



When you edit the labels you can add colors by clicking on the colored dot next to each label.

Now that you have colors on each of your labels you can use them to examine your scenes.


To color code your scenes, select:

View -> Use Label Color In -> Binder.

Hmm. Lots of green. Not so bad.


Working with Series

Action steps #6-#10 from Blueprint Your Bestseller all relate to finding the series in your story and attaching them to scenes. Then you look for key scenes where several series intersect, find the theme of the book, and consciously choose how to present the series in terms of frequency and rhythm.

The Scrivener keyword feature is perfect for managing series in Scrivener.

Creating a List of Series

The first thing we do is create a list of series using keywords. We see the project keywords using the Project -> Show Project Keywords pulldown menu. This gives us a list of keywords and we use it to capture our series:


The little plus-sign icon in the lower left allows you to add series. You can double click on the colored squares on the right to give each series its own color. You are now ready to add your series to your scenes.

Adding Series to a Scene

Each scene should deliver at least one iteration of a series. At this point we go through all our scenes and add series to them. The easiest way to do this is to drag the series (keywords) from the Keywords window above into the scene title in the binder window:


You can see the list of series associated with a given scene using the Keyword panel in the inspector:


Once you have all the series associated with the scenes you can easily see how your book handles the series.

Searching for Series

The easiest way to analyze your series is to ask the question “Which of my scenes relate to a given series?” For example, let’s examine the places where the series “secrets” came up in Child Not Found’s messy draft.

First we tell Scrivener that we want to search for keywords:image12

Next we do the search and look at the binder:


We see that we have ten scenes that deal with secrets.

Series on the Corkboard

Scrivener lets you view a collection of scenes as index cards on a corkboard. You can add colors from your series by selecting the View -> Corkboard Options -> Show Keyword Colors menu item. This view helps you find key scenes:


The card display button in the lower right hand corner lets you control the number of series colors that appear on each card.

Series in the Outliner

You can also view sets of scenes in the outliner and view their series (keywords) using the outliner’s column selector like this:


You access the column selector by using the right mouse button on the column title area at the top of the list. (By the way, Scrivener does not require numbers on the keywords. I added the numbers myself as part of my process for sorting analyzing scenes.)

Using Scrivener for the Rest of the Process

At this point Scrivener has helped us cut up our scenes, label them as good, bad, or forgotten, and assign series to them. At this point we can proceed using typical Scrivener features.

Finding the Theme

Blueprint Your Bestseller action steps #7-11 have to do with finding your theme. You’ve named your series in the keywords, but the other steps of describing the series, listing the series sentences, and “finding your one thing”, are best done in a spare document in the Story Notes section in the binder.

Drawing the Target

There is no “Draw the Target” function in Scrivener. You can do this with a big poster board and post it notes. Software tool geek that I am, I use Literature and Latte’s tool Scapple to create my target. Once you’ve completed your target exercise you can store the result in Scrivener’s Story Notes section either by taking a picture of it or (if using Scapple) dragging and dropping it.

Ordering Your Scenes

Stuart Horwitz says that a novel is 99 scenes arranged in the correct order. Now that you’ve fully analyzed your novel with help from Scrivener, you duplicate your messy draft to create a method draft and then rearrange and rewrite the scenes. You’ve now got 99 (or whatever number) scenes in the correct order. So you duplicate your method draft to create a polished draft and you’re all set.


Ray Daniel is the award-winning author of Boston-based crime fiction and is the author of the Tucker Mysteries. His short stories “Give Me a Dollar” won a 2014 Derringer Award for short fiction and “Driving Miss Rachel” was chosen as a 2013 distinguished short story by Otto Penzler, editor of The Best American Mystery Stories 2013. CHILD NOT FOUND is the third novel in the Tucker Mysteries. For more information, visit him online at raydanielmystery.com and follow him on twitter @raydanielmystry.

Clients Crushin’ It: Emily English Medley


Madison Utley interviews Emily English Medley, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, debut author (read: a woman of many talents) about her inaugural novel, From the Moon I Watched Her.

Published by Greenleaf Book Group in January 2021, Medley presents a rich and layered coming-of-age tale about “the skeletons that lurk under church pews and the little girl who goes looking for and finds them”.


Q: I hear this book was originally written as a memoir. What did the move to fiction allow you to do? 

A: In anybody’s life, there are things that don’t make sense and questions they will always have. When I was approaching this as a memoir, there were scenarios where these gaps were so wide, the only way I could fill them was to effectively play God. This was a story that was begging to be out of me, and turning it into fiction allowed me a better way to do that. I answered a lot of my own questions, and made the things that didn’t make sense make sense. Also, I never wanted to expose my family or hurt them in any way. This is not a revenge book, so switching to fiction catered to my strong urge to protect.

Q: When you reached out to Stuart after seeing him speak at the San Francisco Writers Conference, what were you hoping he could help you with? 

A: I had a really clear vision for what I wanted this book to be, and I had already gone through two edits before I realized it just wasn’t working as a memoir. My book is as dark as humanly possible; the content matter is heavy, and it is personal to me. We’re talking about pedophilia, sexual abuse, death, mental illness. I needed somebody who could meet me there, at that depth, and I sensed that from Stuart.  When I listened to his panel discussions, I knew right away: this guy is going to be serious with me. I also needed someone who could meet my high expectations. I’m a perfectionist and I needed someone who could go there with me. 

Q: Talk to me about the process of working with Stuart; was it what you expected? 

A: The Book Architecture process met me where I needed it to, and was absolutely what I was hoping for. It was long and arduous, and worth every damn penny. We worked on my book together for nearly a year and a half. It was incredibly helpful, because it allowed me to really understand what I was trying to say in this book and what I was aiming for. Like I knew my characters have this top level of something they want, but that there was another level beneath that. I wanted to write about that second level and get deep into their motivations. The Book Architecture method helped me to do that. I don’t feel like the story would have been able to emerge like it did without going through that process. 

Q: What would you say to an author searching for the right editor for their project? 

A: Be picky. Be picky. Be picky. I was so glad to have found Stuart because I met some bad guys along the way. When it’s your story, your baby, your art, you can’t let just anybody into your space. When I partnered with Stuart, I said, “This is a chandelier. We’re going to polish every single solitary crystal of it. It’s heavy, it’s dirty, but we got to get it right.” I needed somebody who was going to be honest with me, and I got that vibe from Stuart; throughout the process, I never felt like he was telling me what I wanted to hear, but that he was telling me what was going to make the book better. From go, I liked the way Stuart communicated and I liked that he was somebody I wanted to be around. It’s so important to have good rapport. 

Q: I heard you queried around 120 agents before you got one. What did you tell yourself during that process? 

A: In the first round of querying, those who received my book had a very visceral reaction to the darkness of the material. Then, when Trump won the presidency, it became, “We do not care about white southerners and their moral dilemmas right now.” I decided I was going to put the book away for four full years, and that’s what I did. 

Before, I had gone to publishers in New York and San Francisco, but I had never gone through any Texan presses. This year, I decided to keep it in the family. The book is about Texas, so why not do that? I sent it off to Greenleaf and a couple days later got a call, “This is a very easy yes for us.” My takeaway is that every story has a time. I had to wait until the climate was right and the book became more timely. I had to trust in the story, and trust in the timing. When it was meant to be, I didn’t even have to try. 

Q: Tell me about some of the buzz your book has gotten since being published. 

A: It’s appeared on a few Buzzfeed lists of the most anticipated books of 2021 and it’s been mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, some podcasts, and 500 Barnes and Nobles stores bought it for their shelves. That specifically felt like a big deal to me as a debut author! But I don’t know much about the buzz, really. What I do know are the impactful moments I’ve had with readers who grew up in an environment where mental illness or abuse or any of the things in my book went on, readers who have reached out to me to say I touched their lives or made them feel something they hadn’t felt before, to say that my book was healing, that it changed them. That is so meaningful. That is every author’s dream. 

Q: What would you say to someone considering recruiting help to finish their project?

A: If you have a story you’re burning to tell, don’t give up on it. But also don’t force it. You have to let the story come and you have to trust the journey of that story so it can emerge in its best version. Trust it’s going to find its way into the right hands at the right time. 


This interview had been edited for length and clarity.

Introducing Madison Utley

Everyone wants to be in a band, right? Even the most solitary among us revel in
the enhanced processing speed and deepened emotional richness that come when we work closely with another who “gets it.” In that vein, we introduce our newest collaborator, Madison Utley. And rather than rotely recite her bio, we’ll simply pass her the mic…


Someone recently asked me how I found my way into independent editing and, I was off: “So, when I was seven years old…”

The scale of my response was met with clear alarm, but rather than heeding social cues (I mean, where’s the fun in that?)*, I forged onward: buckle up, buddy, I’m taking you on a journey.

Luckily for you, dear reader, I realize my loquaciousness is better received in person than on the page, and so shall present to you here the abridged version of my tale –

For a decade of my childhood, one month a year was set aside for family road trips throughout the US. It was on a particularly glorious stretch of plains, many years and many miles into this endeavor, where I remember first articulating something which had been dancing around the periphery of my fledgling awareness: The only difference between being home or being here was going; the trick to getting things done is doing them.



It wasn’t as if all barriers were dramatically dashed from my mind in that moment, somewhere on the open road at high noon; it wasn’t an epiphany. It felt more like acknowledging an incontrovertible truth, one that settled in right at the core of my pliable twelve-year-old consciousness.

Carried into adulthood, that perspective meant I was comfortable turning ideas (I want to learn Spanish) into decisive action (I’m going to move to Colombia).

It’s not a terribly novel ideology. It doesn’t absolve me of the time and effort necessary to enact my plans. It doesn’t mean I’m inherently good at all I try. It doesn’t mean things unfold how I expect.

What it does mean is that I embrace my agency and trust in my ability to figure things out. If I come across what seems to be a worthwhile pursuit, I know I can and will make it work.

Sure, I can move to South America. Sure, I can run a marathon. Sure, I can set the record for most wings consumed in one sitting in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Sure, I can write a book.

Enter: independent editing.

With the first major project I took on, I didn’t let the fact that I had never attempted writing on that scale deter me. I put in the time. I researched. I sought guidance from the right people (looking at you, Stuart).

I wrote the book.

And I was hooked.

Independent editing felt – and feels – like the coalescence of all that I most value in life: dealing in words, working with people, dynamism, independence, flexibility, challenge.

Fast forward several years and I’m currently based in Sydney, Australia (…because it’s beautiful. Because I want to. Because I can?). Some weeks, I’m elbow deep in projects that set my mind afire. Others, I’m trekking for days at a time through the Tasmanian wilderness. I’m dizzy with gratitude I’m able to structure my life in a way that allows me the freedom to pursue the breadth of that which I find fulfilling.

It seems to me that living well relies on (near) equal parts humility and confidence. Helping people bring their vision to the page demands the same; it’s their project, their expertise, their passion – I’m there to learn. I also know I have much to give. Therein lies the excitement.


* let the record show, in actuality, I am an excellent storyteller who is forever leaving my fans wanting more