Author Spotlight: Renee Dugan

I’ve got another awesome author feature today and I’m very excited to have had the pleasure of interviewing Renee Dugan, whose latest book, Dawnstar is coming out on June 23rd. It is the second book in her Starchaser Saga and she’s given us a sneak peek below!

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Can you share what your writing journey has been like? What got you into writing initially and what milestones have you reached along the way?

Oh gosh! Honestly, I feel like I have been writing forever. My mom handed me a pencil one day when I was 5 and it’s been all go ever since! But my journey can ultimately be summed up as growth. I had my milestone of switching from one-paragraph stories to chapter books, from animal books to people-books, and in the past six years I’ve hit milestones like actually finishing a duology, then a trilogy, then a series—and now, being published!

What draws you to high fantasy?

The freedom! I love being able to create my own worlds and make them utterly epic and not have to worry so much about fitting expectations from our world. Ugh, that sounds so bad, haha! But I am not a big history-research buff; I love certain kinds of research, I love creating languages and topography and magic systems, but I’m always so nervous about getting details wrong about our world. I find I’m much more creatively in my element when I make my own rules!

 What inspires your writing and style? Are there specific books or stories that have shaped your storytelling?

I think my style, as it is today, had one very major influence: Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. While I haven’t reread it in years, it was the book that got me solidly into high fantasy. Something about the prose style opened my eyes to the magic of what fantasy can be, as did the idea of “superpowers” in fantasy. That kind of style and content has REALLY stayed with me even as I continue to evolve my own prose and dialogue!

You share a lot of helpful resources for writers and discuss building a community for writers. Can you share a bit of helpful information here that writers can take in creating not just a platform but a community as well?

Yes! I love this question! So I think two of the biggest keys to create platform and community are 1) Don’t try to do it all! Pick a platform to engage your future readership where you feel comfortable interacting, and put 80% of your focus there! It’s good to be on multiple social media sites and such, but you have to know where to direct your energy. Especially if publishing isn’t your full time business, you will burn out if you try to be the Queen/King of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Patreon, TikTok, etc. etc. AND still write and publish on a regular schedule AND still hold a day job! Using myself as an example, I do 90% of my platform on Instagram because it fits my needs best. And it is a BLAST! And I do dabble on Twitter and Facebook, but I conserve my energy by having Instagram auto-post to those. It’s a good middle ground!

And 2) For building community, BE AUTHENTIC and HAVE BOUNDARIES. People really want to connect with authors, and connecting back really helps you build not just readership, but friendship! On the other hand, you do not owe people your time; you need to know when to step back and keep your time and heart to yourself so you don’t burn out. Those are the two biggest lessons I’ve learned so far!

You have great resources about the beta process, but what can you teach writers about the CP process?

I should probably do a blog series on CPs, shouldn’t I? Haha! The biggest lesson I want to impart to fellow writers looking to CP is you NEED a CP who KNOWS YOUR GENRE. Your critique partner is there to critique, but you want them to be able to critique on things that make your book fit together seamlessly. If your CP doesn’t know your genre, they might miss things that are crucial or remark on things that don’t really need to be changed!

A few other things: 1) Try to have more than just a working relationship with your CP; try to make it a friendship. I’ve done it both ways and the critique was easier to take AND made more sense with those who knew me/my heart/my stories better! 2) Don’t be afraid to dialogue with your CP about why they suggested a change 3) Like with beta readers, don’t just blanket-accept everything a CP says. None of us are perfect! I have made CP comments that were unfitting to my partner’s vision and I’ve had them given to me. It’s all part of the process! 4) Be gracious and receive gracefully. We all love our stories and are just trying to make them their best, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to help each other along the way!

What has been your marketing strategy for your books?

Ah, another one I am still learning! Right now, I market almost purely by word of mouth, giveaways, and in-person sales (although that’s been a bit stunted with the 2020 lockdowns!). I also do a lot of selfpromo hashtags on Twitter, which is a great way to be seen! But as of this year I’m starting to get into paid advertising on a budget. I am always nervous about trying new things, but when it’s time, it’s time!

What are some of the challenges or favorite parts of your writing experience so far?

Rewriting, and that’s my answer to both! Haha, this is a new one for me. I had to completely rewrite the last 4 books in my STARCHASER series and it was easily the hardest AND most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I learned more of what I am capable of in this process than anything else to date with writing, but MAN was it tough. I often had to take long breaks between the books. I adore them as they are now, but letting go of the original vision AND not letting myself settle for less because I felt lazy…those were hard hurdles to jump!

What does the editing process look like for you? 

It’s multi-layered for sure! I have really five big edits: my speed-edit, immediately after the draft is done, where I catch any huge glaring inconsistencies; my in-depth edit, where I’ve gained some distance and I can now let go of unnecessary content to hone the draft; my editor’s edit, when the editor herself goes over it; my word-cutting edit, where I go back through and cut every unnecessary word, sentence, or paragraph; and last-edit, where I have the printed book and I read it for flow and final typos. Each of these has a gap in between so I gain clarity and don’t go blind to everything—though of course, something ALWAYS slips through!

You mention a love of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. I also love that book and am a “plantser.” Did you stick to the beats fairly strictly or did you make it your own? Why and how did it affect your story?

Plantsers unite! Save the Cat created an interesting conundrum for me this year. The short answer is, yes, I stick fairly strictly to the beats! I plotted two books in January/February using this, and I have a notebook for one book’s outline that is beat-for-beat the Beat Sheet! The problem I discovered was, that was actually too much plotting and not enough pantsing; when I sat down to write those novels, both of them flopped. I was bored right out of the gate! So I would say the effect was that I got bored! This is not the first time this has happened with Save the Cat, so I think in the future I need to make it my own more. I’ll let you all know how that goes! 😉

Do you have any writing routine quirks or interesting tidbits you can share?

I am much too spacey to know whether my habits or quirky or normal! Like, does needing a drink at hand at all times count? But I do almost always need a candle or wax warmer for writing; and if I am stuck, I have the Braveheart soundtrack by James Horner to get me out of a bind! That OST is pure magic!

Also, for tidbits, here’s one I learned recently: I don’t end a writing session with a chapter’s end. I always start the next chapter and get a paragraph or two down; that way I don’t have to start from scratch the next day!

Has COVID-19 changed your writing or routine? If so, how have you dealt with it? If not, how do you stay motivated?

Honestly, COVID changed very little about my writing routine; it was almost an excuse to get back into it after three months away, as a matter of fact! I still get up stupid-early and write before my day job. What helps me stay motivated is I remind myself that before my day really starts, absolutely nothing has changed between quarantine and normal life; I would always get up early to write, and I still do. This allows me to begin every day with a sense of normalcy. Plus it’s very nice to have a familiar world to escape into when life is so crazy out there!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just that I am so grateful for this interview opportunity and for all the people who love and support me, and who allow me the privilege to speak into their lives and writing journeys and help however I can. This community is amazing, book lovers are amazing, writers are amazing. Thank you all for being YOU!

The Chaos Circus Darkwind and Dawnstar by Renee Dugan

An Excerpt from Dawnstar 

“That’s what you have here. Freedom. If you choose not to face Traisende and Yager, I’ll find some way to convince them on my own.”

“Thank you, Thorne.”

“But,” he added, “you also have the freedom to stand next to me. We can begin to show them a possibility of Talheim and Valgard united. Even if we manage to unseat my father and I ascend to the Judgement Seat, I can still only put the might of our forces behind you for a few months at a time. If you want Valgard to stand with the Middle Kingdom against King Jad, we’ll have to convince the other Chancellors as well. I’ll do what I can to help, but this was always going to come down to you.”

Cistine’s breath caught. “God’s bones. I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

“Politics are complicated, particularly when you’re trying to win the favor of Chancellors. It’s best to start small. And since Yager and Traisende are already sympathetic to our cause, you’ll find no better ears to practice on.”

“But I failed to even get in a word of my plans with Salvotor. He talked right over me. Ashe and Julian were right, I don’t know how to be a princess who negotiates. Even you were manipulating me when we made a truce for my training.”

Thorne shifted awkwardly, bending his head. “True. But what about when Quill was worried for Tatiana, and you still convinced him to train you the next day? Or when you commanded Julian’s respect in Villmark? You weren’t being manipulated then.”

A touch of strength sizzled through Cistine’s body—then dimmed. “But I wasn’t trying to be a princess with them. Quill was my friend, and I wanted to help him. And Julian…Julian infuriated me. He made me want to fight for myself.”

“You’re thinking too much about what being a princess means. Stop imitating nobility, and do the noble thing. The rest will follow.”

Cistine drew a deep breath through her nostrils, straightening up to grip the railing with both hands. “I think I can manage that.”

About Renee

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Renee Dugan is an Indiana-based YA/NA author who grew up reading fantasy books, chasing stray cats, and writing stories full of dashing heroes and evil masterminds. Now with over a decade of professional editing, administrative work, and writing every spare second under her belt, she has authored THE CHAOS CIRCUS, a horror-lite fantasy novel, and THE STARCHASER SAGA, an epic high fantasy series. Living with her husband, dog, and three not-so-stray cats in the magical Midwest, she continues to explore new worlds and spends her time in this one encouraging and helping other writers on their journey to fulfilling their dreams.   

Author Spotlight: Felicia Blaedel

I am super excited to share a short interview and excerpt from author Felicia Blaedel. Her goal is to write love stories between real, messy characters and her debut novel Chasing Pebbles just released on June 4, 2020! Read on to learn more about her, her writing process with a toddler added to the mix, and how she includes authentic characters in her story. 

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1. What initially drew you to the romance genre? Do you read romance primarily or was this something new?

Yes, I primarily read romance, new adult and young adult. When I was younger, I read more fantasy, but the romantic subplots were still important to me. I started reading a lot of indie romance after I got my first Kindle in 2016. I was going through a rough time, and I sought out romance novels as a distraction. I was happily surprised by the many well-developed stories with relatable characters I found. I realised that romance could be a lot more than just an easy fluffy story to enjoy by the pool.

 

2. What are some of your favorite romance tropes or inspiration?

My favourite trope is friends to lovers, which is probably why Chasing Pebbles is a friends to lovers romance as well. I love the history, shared memories and connection between the characters, and I feel like it helps make the story feel real. Also, the slow burn tension, angst and the shift from friends to more is so enjoyable to both read and write. I also enjoy light enemies to lovers (I’m not a fan of dark romance) and fake relationships a lot, and I generally prefer slow-burn over instant attraction. However, I’ll buy whatever Sarina Bowen and Penny Reid write without even checking the blurb.

 

3. You mention that you want to write messy, flawed characters. What are some ways that you’ve been able to do that in your book? 

It’s important to me that my characters feel authentic and real. I don’t believe perfect people or perfect love exist, so I create characters that make mistakes and learn from them. I want to write redeemable bad guys and flawed good guys. I also find it interesting that most people have opposing or contradicting personality traits which can be incredibly hard to transfer to a character without creating confusing, but something I find essential. For instance, Frida my heroine in Chasing Pebbles, she’s both flirty and incredibly loyal, she’s feminine and a tomboy, she’s compassionate and stubborn. Soft and strong.

 

4. Why did you select the new adult age for your novel? 

I think it’s a fascinating time to write about because you’re just starting to be independent and I find that shift interesting. It’s about figuring out where you belong and what makes your heart happy. And I guess, I like knowing that my characters find their passions at a youngish age, they feel real to me so them going after their dreams makes me happy. I can also relate to having to rediscover who you are after high school, as it at least for me wasn’t the best experience and a place where unwanted labels and gossip thrived.

 

5. You have a small toddler, right? How does that affect your writing?

I think everyone with small children knows you have less time to do what you want, and even though that’s frustrating at times I also think it makes me more determined about how I spent it. I feel like I get a lot done with the time I have, and I’m focused on my goals. It’s also important for me to show my son that you can go after your dreams. But yeah, some days I need to avoid hearing about my author friends word counts because I’m so behind. It’s a lot about adjusting expectations which isn’t my strong suit as change generally feels hard for me. But I’ve learned that it’s much more fun to pluck dandelions or explore the forest when I’m present than when I’m stuck in my head and my to-do lists.

6. During your writing journey, you mention that you still feel that writing is “right” for you despite how hard it can be to juggle in life. What does that feel like and how does it motivate you to keep writing?

I started writing again as an adult in a period where I was really struggling. I had an awful job, and it was my first full time job after graduating so that certainly felt like a let down after working really hard to get good grades. I was stressed and my anxiety was out of control. I also felt like I was on some career path I was supposed to have an interest in, but mostly I just thought adulting was so hard and depressing. I started writing again for my own sake as a way to process. I wrote an (unpublished) novel about a young woman with anxiety that was so high functioning that people didn’t always notice when she felt like she was drowning. I’ve realised that writing helps me process my emotions. I’m highly sensitive and I often have a hard time deciphering what I’m feeling, but when I write, even if it’s not correlating to my life, it still taps into all those feelings and it makes me lighter. When I started talking to other indie authors and identifying with being a writer it gave me a better self-understanding and sense of purpose.

7. How did you make the transition from writing to actually deciding to self-publish?

I decided to write in English and pursue self-publishing when my son was just a newborn. I’m Danish and until that point I’d only written in Danish, but I just realised that I needed to make things happen. I didn’t feel like sending my novel to publishing houses and waiting months to hear back. I wanted to be in control, and I wanted to decide when. I love the writing community on Instagram; I made some amazing friends there and learned about self-publishing.

 

8. You mention a bit about wanting to push the romance genre forward and get rid of some of the stigma associated with it. How does that play a part in your story and what you hope readers get out of it?

I find it odd that people have so many prejudices and ideas about what romance is and what it isn’t. I don’t understand why books about love are less worthy or make people say things like “that type of literature” , call it a guilty pleasure or just look shocked when I share my love of romance. Chasing Pebbles is a love story, but it’s also a story of friendship, about choosing your family, about self-discovery and self-worth, about forgiveness, stigmas, bullying, courage and trust. Both my main characters and my side characters have their own stories, their own development. Love can be healing and magical; having the right person by your side does make a big difference. It’s not a necessity and some battles you’re the only one who can fight, but I think it’s a genuine desire for many people to be a team. I hope my readers will find Chasing Pebbles relatable. I hope they’ll find Oliver and Frida authentic. It’s in many ways also a story about coming to terms with our past and changing the stories we tell ourselves. It’s about embracing who you are, all odd, silly or contradicting parts.

 

9. What have been the challenges and your favorite parts about your writing journey?

I think the most challenging has been believing in myself, but it’s something I’m slowly learning. After all, it’s pretty necessary if you want to self-publish. One of my favourite parts has been finding something I’m passionate about, it changed so many aspects of my life and just made me a happier person. I also love writing about all these characters that live in my mind, and it feels amazing to tell their stories (or more accurately, they’re telling me). Another favourite part has also been connecting with other authors.

 

10. Do you have any quirks or interesting habits as part of your writing routine?

I get ideas at the most random times, so I have notebooks everywhere (a good reason for buying new ones often, my favourite at the moment is mint green with gold pineapples.) When I don’t have a notebook at hand, I text myself ideas. And since i’m Danish but writing in English, I type ideas out in a mix of both. If someone picked up my phone and looked through my correspondence with myself, I’m sure they would think it was a secret code that’s how much sense it makes.

11. Has COVIS-19 changed anything about your writing journey? If so, how have you dealt with it? If not, how do you stay motivated?

For most of the lockdown phase, I was in book-launch/ administrative mode, and that has been both good and bad. Good in the sense that I could easier get things done at odd hours on little sleep than if I was writing, but bad because I didn’t get to process my COVID enhanced anxiety through creating. Mostly it just changed that I got behind on work as I had my son home with me all day. Toddler hugs and nature walks did help on all the weirdness of the world though.

 

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Chasing Pebbles Blurb

Frida left her hometown a year ago. When she suddenly finds herself without a place to stay for the summer, she is forced to go back. A stubborn, foolish part of her wants to show them that she can’t be broken. She’ll hold on to her anger, push the nostalgia away even if the scent of seawater and beach-roses is making it difficult.

Ever since Frida left, Oliver’s life has been a little lonelier and a little greyer, despite him staying busy to distract himself. When he realises that Frida, his favourite human, the one person who was always up for his shenanigans is coming home, he knows he has to make it right.

She’s hurting, and so much is left unsaid. Oliver might only get one summer, but he’s determined to make it memorable. Frida is afraid to trust. Oliver can’t let go of his guilt.

Neither of them is prepared for how everything can feel the same and yet so, so different.

Chasing Pebbles takes place in Denmark; it’s a new adult friends to lovers romance with a nerdy, talkative hero and a stubborn, compassionate heroine.

Chasing Pebbles is book one in the Without Filter series and it’s a complete standalone. ​

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About Felicia

Felicia Blaedel is a Danish indie-author who writes quirky, heartfelt romances with real, flawed characters. Felicia also reads whenever she has a free minute and she never leaves her house without her Kindle. Felicia lives in Denmark with her husband and son.

When Felicia isn’t doing something bookish, she enjoys drawing, dancing (mostly at home with her toddler, sometimes at the gym, rarely at a nightclub), cooking (for the most part) and travelling.

She also tends to buy anything with dinosaurs, and she loves to-do lists and personality tests.
Felicia also hangs out (too much) on Instagram where she posts pictures about her indie-author life, cute dresses, coffee mugs, musings about anxiety, book recommendations and much more. She would love it if you come by and say hello @feliciablaedel or at her website www.feliciablaedel.com.

 

Writing in Different Genres

Today’s guest post is really helpful for me, and I hope it is for you as well. Tara Moeller shares what it is like to write in a variety of genres and the complexity that that holds for writers. To learn more about Tara, keep reading, and if you want to write a guest post, fill out this form and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Writing in Different Genres guest blog by Tara Moeller

Most writers get ideas that are different -different worlds, different time periods, maybe even different levels of “scary”. And sometimes, when these ideas hit the paper—or the computer screen—you realize that the intended audience is for middle grade students instead of adults.

Many authors write in different genres, and that’s okay. There’s no rule that says an author can only write one kind of story, like romance, or western, or fantasy. The elements that make those genres different doesn’t make the story arc or the characters so different that they can’t be written by the same person.

I write a lot of different stuff; my first full-length published novel, Dhampyr Heritage, was set in the late Victorian period and was about a teenage boy finding out there were a lot of vampires in the world, and that his grandfather had been a vampire hunter. Now, I also had a manuscript, already written and finalized several years earlier, that got published soon after, The Secret of Magik and Dragons; it was a magical fantasy for middle-grade audiences.

Dhampyr Heritage by E.G. Gaddess
The Secret of Magic and Dragons by T.L. Frye

Now, I don’t think you can use the same pen name for those two books; what I wrote in Dhampyr Heritage was not appropriate for middle-grade readers. That’s why Dhampyr Heritage has E. G. Gaddess on it and not T. L. Frye.

It can be hard juggling all the different story ideas and made-up worlds that go into all these stories, but so far I’ve managed…mostly. Juggling manuscripts and “personas” means that while E. G. Gaddess has been pretty prolific, T. L. Frye only has a second manuscript ready now.

How do I manage it as well as I do? Notebooks—oodles of them.

I have one filled with ideas and character descriptions and scene plots for my Dhampyr series (there are three books so far), as well as for my steampunk YA series also by E. G. Gaddess.  I also have one for my middle grade fantasy books, and another for an early reader steampunk that I’d like to put together, but it’s still in the very early stages, so we’ll see where that goes.

I don’t even want to think about what I’m going to do with my other steampunk manuscripts that have just older-than-teenage protagonists—Edwina Gaddess may have to rise from the coffin, and soon.

I also have a notebook for short story ideas, most of which, when realized and complete, get submitted under my real name, Tara Moeller. I’ve also got some odd novellas published under my name, and a slightly horrific (and a little sexy) ghost story that doesn’t really fit anywhere else, so it will go out under my real name. And a similar one with a demon and a stinky portal to the underworld.

This situation doesn’t help me create a unified “brand” (we’ve all heard about personal author branding, right?) so my marketing of anything has been pretty sporadic, but I’m starting to figure out how to get the word out about each project that has a running theme and developing “brand.”

E. G. Gaddess is Victorian and steampunk (which can be described as Victorian science fiction, so I think they fit together). My author photos as E. G. Gaddess include my steampunk costumes, which I love, and wear whenever I appear anywhere to sell those books. 

E. G. Gaddess

My publicity pictures for Tara Moeller tend to be humorous, which I think lends to an adult audience, while I try to extend “teacherly” vibes in my T. L. Frye pics, though I’m not sure I succeed. 

Tara Moellertara-moeller

This “persona” extends to when I make appearances. E. G. Gaddess tends to attend local conventions, especially since I get to wear any one of my many steampunk or semi-Victorian get ups when I do. I sit on panels as an author, and though I don’t pretend I’m only E. G. Gaddess, I try to limit my answers and discussions to areas that fit with the books I write as E. G. Gaddess.

For T. L. Frye, I don’t costume up, but wear comfy pants and usually a sweater. Younger kids (and their parents) don’t seem to know what to make of someone dressed up and selling them a book, so I limit those appearances (and they are limited) to library events and kid festivals and Ren Faires (which are family events and fit with the fantasy theme of those books); I will dress up for a Ren Faire—I mean, pretty much EVERYONE does.

When I get an opportunity to represent the publishing collective, DreamPunk Press, that I’m a part of, I usually go as Tara Moeller, mainly because I also edit for the collective and curate the charity anthology we publish every year. I have also been asked to sit on panels at conventions as an editor, and when I do, I attend as Tara Moeller. This, I think, helps me keep my personas separate and distinct, and helps keep the confusion down for my readers.

Rogues and Rebels Anthology

But one thing I never do, is lie that I don’t write under all those names. I may not offer it up first thing when at a DreamPunk Press table, but I don’t ever lie about it. That is the easiest way to lose fans. And I can’t afford to do that; I only have about five.

And with that, let me talk about my latest pen name, Zahra Jons (don’t ask where it came from). When my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma, it threw the life of my entire family into a tailspin. My husband and I became her main caregivers, and my recently teenaged kid’s world was thrown into chaos. I tried writing this out several times, with several voices, and finally a contemporary YA story was the result. It didn’t fit with anything else I’ve written, so yet another name was created.

Waiting for Normal

This wasn’t an easy book to write, and it is almost too close to me. I may not ever write anything similar again (but who are we kidding, I already have something written down in another notebook). But if I never do, E.G., T. L., and Tara will keep on writing and publishing, and we’ll be fine.

About Tara

Tara Moeller is the dreamer-in-chief at DreamPunk press, a small publishing collective out of Norfolk, Virginia.  She has been working as an editor for over 20 years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Old Dominion University. She is also an author, publishing under several pen names across several genres. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies, including Airships and Automatons from White Cat Publishing, Street Magick from Elder Signs Press, and the Cynthia Shepp Editing published Stardust. You can also find short fiction from her at her blog, www.taramoeller.com, and of course many of her novels and novellas are available from www.dreampunkpress.com.

 

Trusting Myself in 2020

This post original came out in my monthly newsletter on January 1, 2020. To subscribe to my newsletter, fill out this form and you’ll be the first to see posts, freebies, and news and get more info that I only share in my newsletters.

If you didn’t see on Instagram or in the last newsletter, I’m hoping to branch out by looking for authors to feature on my blog and newsletters and am also looking for guest bloggers. If that applies to you, fill out the links for those forms and I’ll contact you with more info soon!

Happy New Year! I hope that the holiday season finds you well and healthy. My little family has been suffering from one illness to the next it seems. My kids got sick while we were out of town and then seemed to be passing it on to my husband and I. It is a medicine filled, sleep-deprived household we’ve got, but I’m hoping we’re all making a turn for the better before I head back to work and the kids go back to school. 

If you’re looking for a few things that I learned about myself in 2019, be sure to check out my latest blog post!

I’m really excited (and a little scared) to share my 2020 plans with anyone, but I figured if I was going to do it, this would be the best place. For accountability, and to give myself a little courage, I really need to speak/write these plans out into the world, and maybe it’ll help you feel the courage (if you need it) to share your own goals or plans. 

Well, without further ado, here are the top three things I’m hoping to accomplish this year:
1. Publish the first two books in my fantasy series by the end of the summer. 
2. Find a job (teaching, editing, curriculum design, etc.) that will allow me to quit my job in order to write more and take care of my youngest daughter with her health issues. 
3. Attend writing events as an author and/or editor. 

Looking back at them, they don’t seem so scary after all, but for myself and my family, it would mean HUGE changes to our daily life, finances, and more. 

For the past six months, I’ve been considering leaving the classroom in the traditional sense, leaving behind a position that I’m pretty locked into. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to do it. The biggest fear that I have is letting down my family financially. Why would anyone in their right mind leave a perfectly good position and throw their family into that much stress?

However, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching of sorts, listening to podcasts like those by Ed Mylett and Marie Forleo. One thing that they mentioned was in figuring out tough decisions, does your body react to the possibility in an expansive, positive way, or shy away, cringe, or contract in a negative one. 

And following my heart in that manner, trusting my instincts and the way my whole mind and body light up at the thought of working as a writer and editor from home (and maybe even a teacher still, but just online) has made my mind more resolute about it all. 

Besides, I’ve been living my whole life by the terms I “thought I should be” based on everyone else around me, and I’ve finally mustered up the courage to say “no, thanks!” I’m completely and truly dedicated to following my own path from here on out. Although I’m at a perfectly fine place in my life, my true goal is to be more than just fine. 

So, although those three items listed above are what my plans are for 2020, I guess my real goal is to truly look at each aspect of my life and realign it until it fits with me and what I want from my life.  

What about you? What are your plans for the next year or the next decade? I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to reach out on social media or hit “Reply” to this post!

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Forward Movement

Today’s guest blog is from the amazing author Catherine Labadie. This post helps motivate me to get back on the productivity grind ! To learn more about Catherine, keep reading or check out her Author Spotlight here on the blog as well. If you would like to be a guest blogger, fill out this form and I will get back to you ASAP!

Catherine Labadie guest post forward movement

Moving forward is hard.

The force of inexorable change can’t be stopped, but a lot of times—in writing as well as in life—it feels like it’s…stuck. Any job can make you feel like you’re drowning in day by day, hour by hour tasks that you’ve done a thousand times before. Writing is no different. It actually feels so slow, at times, that you can’t even tell you’re moving at all.

There’s a spark, sometimes. A burst of inspiration that sets your fingers writing or typing more rapidly than you have in a while, and pages flutter out from your imagination unhindered…but then the lights dim. The brainwaves stop singing. You’re back to the daily grind that smothers both you and your manuscript in boredom or disappointment. Perhaps you feel like this writing thing isn’t worth it, or that it’s worth it for some people…just not for you.

Forward movement. It’s not a mantra, or magic words that push me to write more or faster. It’s not even the thing that convinced me to sit down at the end of 2018 after releasing Long Grows the Dark and plan a schedule to help me further my writing career at a reasonable pace. I won’t say “if you want to write, then you’ll write” even though it’s a little true. Some people who really want to write can’t commit the time or money a quality, publishable book requires. That’s okay: whatever phase of life they’re in will pass, and eventually they’ll make it to their dreams or find another goal that makes their heart happy. But it is about wanting. It’s about a desire to bring a story to life chapter by chapter, page by page, and word by word.

Even if those words take forever and a day to add up into the meaningful world you want to create.

I suppose it’s a question you have to ask yourself on a daily basis: what am I doing today to contribute to the forward movement of my book or my dream? Most of the time it will be punching a word count into a spreadsheet to keep track of your progress. Sometimes the number will be small and seemingly insignificant, and you’ll push away a hollow feeling and make excuses to yourself about why you couldn’t do better. Sometimes it’ll be a huge number you’ll grin about when you tell your writing friends or people who support you. Most of the time, however large the number, it won’t feel like enough until you type “the end” on a draft. But it’s never really over, is it? There’s revising, and editing, and marketing and building up your brand…

CatherineLabadie guest post forward movement

Stay focused, and carve out time for all of it. If you keep records of where your time goes and how you spent it, it’ll be easier to see when you should be writing and when you need an evening or a whole day off to let your beautiful brain rest. I use a spreadsheet and work around a weekday schedule where I have an easy-for-me minimum word count that I usually surpass and always feel good about. I mark time for “bonus sessions” that I can devote to other projects, editing, writing related emails…or just ignore if I’ve punched in 5,000+ words that day and need a nap.

A strict schedule isn’t for everyone, just like plotting a book start to finish before writing it isn’t for everyone. The advice “write every single day” can often be more harmful than helpful, and burn out is no joke.

There’s something to be said, though, for planning out your writing time around work or school or parenting or whatever. It’s almost a holy ritual for creators who need to make something from themselves, something no one else can make like you can. I don’t mean to romanticize a craft that is quite honestly tedious more often than it’s magnificent. Just as honestly, the moments where you breathe life into characters and scenes that become magnificent make all the tedious word tracking, outlining, and obscure research worth it.

I’m not a well-known author that has answers and a smile for everyone who writes because we share an occupation. Creating often makes me grumpy, distracted, and unwilling to communicate with others until I’ve shoved whatever scene I’ve been plotting into my latest work in progress. But the one thing I know for sure is that it’s better to keep going, and that moving forward is what gets a book finished.

About Catherine Labadie

Catherine Labadie guest blog for Leslie Arambula

Catherine Labadie lives in the mountains of the picturesque Carolinas with her husband and her dogs: a Scottish Terrier, a Whoodle, and a Great Dane. Slow Wanes the Night is her fourth novel. You can find her on Instagram at authorcatherinelabadie or at her website.

Author Spotlight: Catherine Labadie

I am super excited to share a short interview and excerpt from author Catherine Labadie. She’s an awesome writer and person and she’s also shared about sticking to a writing schedule on her guest blog post. To find her books, you can look on her website or search Amazon. She just released the second book of her Fate’s Fall series, Long Wanes the Night!

Can you share about your writing journey? How did you get where you are today?

This is always a hard one to answer! I know I sound fake when I say that I truly have never really considered another career. I always knew I’d be writing, even when I was seven and hiding perfume samples in a notebook because that’s what I wanted my characters to smell like.

Your books have a lot of magic and fantasy elements in them. What are some of the difficulties of writing those elements? What are some of the fun parts?

Writing fantasy is easy in some ways, but as always it’s difficult to make sure everything aligns enough with how reality works. Magic needs a system, otherwise characters are overpowered super people who get boring really quickly. There’s also the science side to consider, in some aspects. I just take each story as it comes to me and research as needed.

A Turn of the Wheel by Catherine Labadie

You have a series, a set of connected books (Fox and Hound books), and a standalone. What are some of the challenges or benefits of writing each type of story?

((Vixen is basically retired; my main series is my Fate’s Fall Duet with Long Grows the Dark and Slow Wanes the Night. 🙂 ))

I love standalones. A Turn of the Wheel was incredible to write, and it’s nice that that story is contained in just one book. Sequels are difficult because there’s so many connecting ties from the first book to think about. It was overwhelming enough for me to put Slow Wanes the Night on hold for several months. But at the end of the sequel, when you’ve tied things up or had the opportunity to read through everything you put your characters and story through…it’s a good feeling. More work, more benefits.

Your covers are gorgeous! Can you share your experience as far as finding and hiring a cover artist and what that was like?

Basically you troll Instagram or Twitter book art tags and look for artists that are accepting commissions. Go from there. (NOTE: I get requests from people I don’t know all the time demanding for me to tell them where I got my cover. Don’t do this. It’s rude as hell.)

The world you set your books in are very unique and interesting. How do you get inspired to create a world for your books?

World-building is the easy part for me. A lot of the time it’s simply looking at aspects of our world and wondering what those might be like if magic were added, or what they’d be like in a different climate. Other than that it’s random flashes of inspiration I’m super grateful to receive. :’)

Vixen by Catherine  Labadie

You share your writing and publishing schedule with your readers and fans pretty openly, how do you stay on that schedule? Do you ever have to adjust?

Staying on a schedule can be soul-crushing, but most of the time it’s like any other job. You show up, do your work, and look over what you’ve done at the end of the day. Most of the time that positive feeling of seeing how much I’ve accomplished in my writing time gets me through. I adjust my schedule as needed whenever I get sick, but I made my schedule with rest days in mind so I rarely have to move things around.

Long Wanes the Night by Catherine Labadie
Just released on March 17, 2020! Go check it out!

Now that you are working on five books, what advice would you give your unpublished self of the past?

To my past unpublished self? I mean, there’s the usual “ignore the haters” thing that’s really important for someone like me who struggles with confidence. But also, I’d tell my past self that it is possible to write the stories I want to. Certain plots or plot elements or amazing characters are totally within reach if I do the work to unearth them.

Do you have any unique writing quirks or habits?

I’m pretty boring in this respect! If I find a song I like I listen to it on repeat 300 times sometimes..oh, and my Great Dane will sometimes punch me in the face with her paw or her toy if I’m not paying enough attention to her.

A preview of Long Grows the Dark (Fate’s Fall #1)

Long Grows the Dark by Catherine Labadie

Before

Glenna, court sorceress in service to Princess Jael, struggles to hide her feelings for her best friend’s betrothed. Yet even as the land approaches its golden age, an unforeseen enemy rises to corrupt the princess and take power for himself. Fate may lead them all down a path too painful to contemplate, but are Glenna’s choices enough to dispel the inevitable darkness set to veil their future?

Now

Gwendoline Hallewell, a Starford University student in a land where magic is commonplace, has always been unusual. When her casting book summons a man from the past to intervene with her dangerous new present, she has no choice but to trust him. As she and her friends Colt and Everleigh reconcile what happened before with what must happen in the present, Gwendoline must decide what it means to make her own choices, suffer her own consequences, and if free will is really within her grasp.

Author Spotlight: Britt Laux

Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing and presenting an excerpt from author Britt Laux. She also wrote a guest blog post for me about Healing through Reading and Writing, so definitely check that out! Britt has published two books, Summer at Enid’s and All Things New. Without further ado, let’s learn more about Britt and her writing and life journey up to this point.

1. What has your writing journey been like so far?

    I started writing at a really young age. I used to fully illustrate my stories in crayon, keeping notebooks full of them. As I got older, most of my writing was for school, and I fell away from writing for fun.

    It wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to finally go all in and write a book – my first novel, All Things New. Since then, I’ve tried to stay consistent and learn as much as I can about the self-publishing industry and recently started my own indie imprint called Magic and Moons Press. 

2. You’re a mom of three (so am I!), so how do you balance everything? Do you have any tips or strategies that other creative moms and dads out there could use?

My cheeky answer is always “Cereal for dinner”. My serious answer is that we all work as a team to make sure I get my work done. My kids are getting a bit older (6, 9 and 11) so we clean the house together every Sunday to free up some time during the week. 

    My main tip is to make your needs known. Sometimes we like our partners and families to be mind readers and anticipate our needs (like a mom) but it doesn’t always work like that. Having a serious conversation about finding a balance can go a long way. 

3. What is your process of writing, from idea to draft to revisions and publishing?

    When I get an idea, I start with a notebook. I jot down the main idea and details, then flesh out characters. Once I have an idea of who I’m working with, I start to plot an outline – usually just the main points I know need to happen. 

    I’m a mix of a plotter and pantser, so I like to let the first draft take me where it will. With my current WIP, I did my first and second drafts simultaneously. I wrote a more detailed post about my process on my Magic and Moons website, but the short version is that after I drafted a few chapters, I would rewrite immediately into the second draft. It helped me keep track of all the little changes I knew I wanted to make. 

    One I’m ready for a third draft, I start typing. My first two are done by hand to keep that creative feel. That’s the file I will edit going forward, until I’m happy with it. 

    I have used Amazon’s publishing service in the past, but now that I have my own imprint, I’ll be switching to IngramSpark. 

All things new by Britt Laux

4. What are some of the struggles and drawbacks of writing contemporary fiction (using modern technology, transportation, etc.)?

    My first two books are contemporary, while my new book is a dystopian sci-fi/fantasy set in the future. Both have unique challenges when considering technology, transportation, etc. 

    I will say I prefer contemporary, because it’s easy to write what you know. My first book was set in a town very much like my own, she used a basic cell phone for texting, drove an old car… All very easy to work with. My second book was set way out in the woods with limited technology, so that was super easy. 

    I think the real drawbacks come when you’re creating your own world and technology, like with my current book. You have to make sure to stay consistent, and know your creation inside and out. 

5. Summer at Enid’s looks like there are some strong female relationships that are explored between three generations. What can you share about writing female relationships in today’s society?

    I love strong female characters. Both of my first two books have them, and my current series will as well. I think we need more female main characters, handled the right way. 

    Female friendships are vital to our health. We need our girlfriends! I think that gets portrayed poorly in a lot of mainstream media. Yes, we can be catty, but strong females don’t always have to butt heads. 

    We can build each other up and support all of the ladies. 

6. Your books feature clean romance, what are some lessons you’ve learned about writing romance that you can share with others looking to write them or incorporate romantic plot lines in their books?

    I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer this, but I’ll give it a shot. 

    For me, romance needs to be realistic. A common theme in romance novels is unrealistic relationships and intimate encounters (multiple all-nighters, etc.). I also get really tired of the “I love you so much, but actually only express it sexually” theme. 

    Romance is about the little things. Pouring someone coffee when they get up. Checking in to see how they’re feeling. Being there for them when they’re having a hard time. It makes me think of those ‘Yeah, sex is great but have you ever…’ memes. Sex isn’t the only aspect of romance. 

    I keep my books fairly clean for that reason. We like steam and that rush of attraction, but deep down we’re craving more than that. 

7. Do you have any unique writing quirks or habits?

    I actually asked my husband to help me answer this one! One quirk is that I chew on my lips while I concentrate – reading or writing. I also tap my fingers on the edge of the computer when I’m thinking over a scene and drive everyone crazy. 

    I also have a lucky dictionary. It’s a Webster’s Vest Pocket Dictionary I stole from my mom as a kid that’s older than I am. I rarely use it now, thanks to Google, but it has to be close by. 

8. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

    I would just say to anyone just starting out on this journey, self-publishing or hoping to query, make sure you find your village. It takes a village to write a book and do the story justice. Seek out editors, formatters, cover designers – the people that can help you polish your book until it shines. 

    And if you can’t afford to hire these things out, ask questions. Do your research. This is essential to avoiding rookie mistakes that make your work look sloppy and unfinished. 

(I’m a stickler for this – as indie writers especially, we have to be sure we’re putting our best foot forward, or it reflects badly on our fellow indies.)

Summer At Enid’s by Britt Laux

Excerpt from Summer at Enid’s

In the last few days I’ve down a lot of crazy things. I quit my job. Left my boyfriend. Fiancé. Deposited most of my possessions in a storage unit. And now I’ve driven almost five hours to stay with my grandmother, who may or may not be totally insane. When I called, Grandma was happy to invite me to stay with her for a while. She said it was serendipitous, as she needs an extra hand around the house. I would be doing her a favor, she insisted. My mother was seething that I turned to Grandma instead of her. I don’t know that they’ve even spoken much in the last couple of years. She acted like I was betraying her. Maybe I am. I could very well be that spiteful.

Healing Through Writing and Reading

Today’s guest blog is from the amazing author Britt Laux. I loved hearing what she had to say about the healing process and I think you’ll like it to! To learn more about Britt, keep reading or check out her Author Spotlight here on the blog as well. If you would like to be a guest blogger, fill out this form and I will get back to you ASAP!

Healing through writing

If you’ve read my books, you know I talk about some hard things. All Things New revolves around an abused single mom who lost her mother at a young age to cancer and has a hard time trusting the opposite sex. In Summer at Enid’s, the main character has been cheated on and loses her grandmother – and also has a very strained relationship with her mother.

    Life isn’t easy. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and it’s not realistic to tell stories that are. People want real. 

They want to feel seen in their pain and struggle.

    Writers often find healing through their writing, and I’m no exception. I’ve dealt with some serious stuff while writing my books, and it’s extremely cathartic. Poetry is a more obvious outlet – you can practically feel their hearts bleeding onto the page – but fiction gives us a chance to heal while being anonymous. 

    You may not know from my work what I’m healing from, and I like it that way. 

    Because once I put the words out there, it stops being about me and starts being about you. The reader. I know that someone else in this world has the same pain and like I said – they are longing to be seen and understood. 

    That being said, I’m a huge believer in using trigger warnings and tact when writing. I often refer to the most traumatic events in a character’s life in a passive way. It explains the reason for their behavior, but what I like to focus on is the healing. 

    I think that’s where a lot of stories go wrong. They detail every excruciating second of trauma but leave their characters hanging when it comes to properly processing and healing. And as a reader, that can leave us feeling…cheated. We’re missing out on the best part of the story. 

    And if we are going to include the traumatic events themselves, we need to be conscientious as writers. 

    It doesn’t take much, just a note at the beginning of the book, but that note can be a lifesaver. Literally. You have to anticipate your reader’s needs and be aware that your content could be triggering to someone who hasn’t healed. It could even be damaging. 

    Because our healing should never come at the expense of someone else’s. As writers we have to be aware of that. It’s not about tossing our work out there for our own benefit. That’s another mistake I see, and I can’t say that I agree with it. 

Creation is healing, but there are pieces of creative work that aren’t meant for anyone else to see. I think we need to weigh that in our own hearts, and think about how a piece would have affected us earlier in our healing. We can’t predict how everyone will take something we put out there, but if we remember who we were when we were still raw, we can get a pretty good idea.

Creation is healing, but there are pieces of creative work that aren’t meant for anyone else to see.

    Something else we might run into when using our writing as healing is the ‘picking at the scab’ effect. We might think we had done some major healing and were ready to write about it… only to find we get pulled back down into the pain. Healing can be cyclical this way, but it’s important not to wallow. If writing a certain piece, or about a certain topic, is dragging you down then you have to be responsible and step away. I had this happen recently with a side project that’s very dear to my heart. I do think I’ll return to it one day, because it’s one of those stories that needs to be told, but I’ll handle it differently and seek help when I do. 

    And that’s my last note on this subject – seek out help. When you’re writing about hard things, don’t close yourself off to others. I’m a solitary writer by nature. I don’t have a writer’s group, and I don’t really share much about my work until I think it’s ready to be seen. That doesn’t mean I don’t talk to other writers about difficult things, or even just family. 

    My husband is my biggest supporter and the only one that knows my whole story. He can see me in my books where others can’t. You need to have those people in your life, whether in real life or virtual friends from the online writing community. They’re your safety net in case those hard topics cause you to fall, and they can bring you back to the light. 

    Yes, my books talk about hard things and my characters have been through the ringer. But their stories revolve around their healing and what comes after the shadows. Life is a balance of dark and light, and we have to remember that – for our own sake and for the sake of our writing. 

Be well, friends and thanks for reading.

About Britt

Britt Laux guest blog for Leslie Arambula

Britt Laux has been writing stories since she was a young girl. Moving from elaborately illustrating with crayons to penning coming of age stories as a teen, her current work centers around strong female characters navigating difficult life changes. Both of her published novels also have a bit of (clean) romance. As a mom of three, she tries to balance parenting and creating, and is also an avid reader in her spare time. You can find her on Instagram @brittlauxwrites

How to Stay Motivated while Achieving your Goals

Today’s guest post is from Shari Bethea and I’m super excited to share her tips on how to stay motivated. It is definitely the kick in the butt that I needed to get back on the motivation train! Also, if you are interested in guest blogging, fill out this form and I’ll get back to you about writing a blog post of your choosing.

Hi Everyone,

Staying motivated while achieving any goal can be challenging when you’re having one of those “bad” days. You know those days – the ones when we question ourselves, if our goal is even worth it, or if we are strong enough to achieve it. On those days, here are my 3 things to think about to keep yourself motivated.

how to stay motivated while achieving your goals

Believe In Yourself

In order to achieve any goal, you have to first BELIEVE you can. There are days that we all question ourselves. See beyond your momentally frustrations. Remember, everyone has a first day and nobody has ever done something perfectly the first time around. Acknowledge and vocalize your abilities daily through simple affirmations, such as “I believe that I am capable of achieving any goal I set because I believe in myself.”

Divide and Conquer

Plan out each step of your goal and conquer it in parts. The reality is, we like to feel successful. Breaking out your goal into manageable steps with allow you to experience small successes. Each success shows that you are a step closer in achieving your overall goal. The use of planners and the calendars will help you give yourself deadlines for accomplishing each step. Do this and watch how fast your goal is achieved.

Remember your big WHY

The biggest and best piece of advice I’ve received is knowing your big WHY. If you don’t know why you want to achieve your goal, more times than none, you won’t achieve it. How would this goal change your life – physically, emotionally, and mentally? Remembering that will help you refocus and reignite your fire. On those tough days, don’t forget why to do what you do.

Staying motivated can be a challenge in the midst if achieving any goal. Believe in yourself, remember you big why, and make use to plan every step.

About the Shari

Shari Bethea guest blog for Leslie Arambula

Meet Shari – a quirky, eclectic person that is learning to live life by accepting her unique self.

Born in a small town in North Carolina, she is small town girl that is determined to do big city things and leave a legacy for future generations. She works in corporate marketing and express myself through writing. She’s also a wife and major foodie. Follow her on discoveringshari.com and on IG @discoveringshari

Magical Cookies and NaNo 2019

This post original came out in my monthly newsletter on December 1, 2019. To subscribe to my newsletter, fill out this form and you’ll be the first to see posts, freebies, and news and get more info that I only share in my newsletters.

I made it to 50k! But it took me all the way until November 30th to do it. Here’s a picture of my writing chart from this NaNo:

As you can see, I’m definitely the “write everyday” kind of gal. Even though I went in with a really thorough outline, plotted out all my scenes with goals and whether they would achieve those goals or not, I still needed the buffer time between big scenes in order to really figure out how to move forward.

NaNoWriMo  progress chart word count daily
My NaNo Writing Chart this year

The biggest takeaway that I had this year, though, was that it wasn’t just enough to set scene intentions if I wasn’t interested in those intentions from a writing standpoint. So, about a week in, after the pre-NaNo planning had all been put on the page, I had to figure out how to get myself to write the next “boring” scene in my outline.

The problem was, I knew it was boring. And I also knew that if I made it boring, I’d also be boring my readers as well. Thankfully, I follow a brilliant author named Susan Dennard and one of her go-to pieces of advice for writers is all about magical cookies. Magical cookies are essentially the reasons you wanted to write this story in the first place, so figuring out how to weave that into every scene can make you excited to write every scene, even the ones that you thought were boring.

So, I wanted to share an example with you today.

Here’s the outline notes for a particular scene that I was working on:
-Wes meets with Freya and she gives him a pie that was promised in the opening scene. His goal is to decide whether or not to leave home and journey to the capital. He will accomplish this goal at the end of the scene, even though he’ll be terrified of breaking the news to his uncle.

When I sat down to write the scene, however, all I could see were the two of them sitting at a small table and the smells of the yummy pie they were about to eat. How was I going to get anywhere after that? And how would I make it interesting enough to read?

Well, when I sat down and considered some of the reasons I wanted to write this story, I came up with a few magical cookies that I could weave into the scene: choosing others over self, identities that are complex or lost, and morally gray decisions.

When I thought about weaving elements of this into the scene, suddenly Freya wasn’t just a kindly old woman, she was a woman who knew Wes’ true identity, even though he doesn’t.

When I considered choosing others over self, I knew that Wes’ passion for serving his community needed to come through. He should be adamant about going, no matter what his uncle had to say.

And when I looked at morally gray decisions, I knew that Wes would eventually becoming morally gray even though he wasn’t yet, but this one act, this defiance for what he believes is right could come back to haunt him and then lead him towards that morally gray character by the end of the book.

Just by looking at all of these things wrapped into a single “boring” scene, I suddenly got excited thinking about how Freya could try to drop hints to Wes. I imagined his blindsided view on life interfering with interpreting those clues, but that they could really impact him later on in the story after he made some bad decisions.

Suddenly, I pictured the conversation and the body language in the scene and the words began to flow out.

After that, I used the magical cookies concept every time I felt like I was stuck on something in my story. Not only did they help me stay excited about writing, even when I needed time to think between scenes, they helped it so that my scenes felt more whole and directly related to the rest of the book.

I hope that by sharing this, maybe you can think about your own magical cookies of your book and use that to help you whenever you feel stuck. I’d also love to hear about any tips or tricks that you have about unsticking your story, so feel free to reach out on social media or hit “Reply” to this post!

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What is a Writing Coach, and do I need one?

I’m so excited for another guest blog post today and this one is all about writing coaching and what it entails. If you are interested in the guest blogger, Laura Buckley, read more about her at the bottom. Also, if you are interested in guest blogging, fill out this form and I’ll get back to you about writing a blog post of your choosing.

Do you have a story idea that you love, but you’re not sure how to get it written?

Do you have a rough first draft that feels like it could be great, but you’re struggling to get it there?

Do you keep scrapping everything and starting over, not sure how to get a finished draft that lives up to the concept you’ve imagined?

A Writing Coach can help you to solve these problems!

What is a Writing Coach guest blog by Liz Buckley

When you’ve got a reasonably polished version of a manuscript, there are a few steps you can look at taking with that—beta readers, a professional edit, pitching to agents or publishers—but if you’re stuck at an earlier stage, things aren’t necessarily so straightforward. In essence, Writing Coaching helps to bridge the gap between the idea stage and a serviceable draft—or beyond. But what does Writing Coaching actually involve?

What does Writing Coaching involve?

The coaching process can vary dramatically from author to author or project to project, not to mention the coach you’re working with, but it will in all likelihood start with a conversation about what stage your project is at and what kind of help you’re looking for. There are as many different approaches out there as there are coaches, but most will look to help you with at least these key components of the writing process as part of their coaching:

  • Defined goals for your project, and discussion about how to achieve those goals
  • A framework for checking in to look at the progress you’re making towards those goals
  • Some kind of regular feedback on the writing you’re producing
  • Help with overcoming barriers you find along the way

What’s the point of it?

Not every writer needs or wants a Writing Coach, just like not everybody who goes to the gym will want to work with a personal trainer. But if you feel like you’re not getting the results you want from your writing, if you know what you want your story to look like but can’t work out how to get there, or if you’re struggling to stay on-track and motivated while writing, a coach can make a massive difference.

A good Writing Coach can provide a combination of advice, accountability, encouragement and helpful feedback throughout the writing process. They can be somebody to bounce ideas off when you’re stuck, or somebody to run a scene by if you’re not sure why it isn’t flowing right. They can help you hold the overall direction of your story in mind, and keep you moving towards an end-point that you can feel proud of. It’s that combination of big-picture support and practical, hands-on help with the work of writing that I think makes Writing Coaching so powerful.

Writing coaches provide advice and accountability

Will a Writing Coach write my story for me?

Short answer: No. A good Writing Coach will bring out what you love about your story and your personal writing style, helping you bring to life the ideas you’ve already got. They might be able to help you brainstorm plot points, or support you with specific questions you have as you write, but the actual words will be completely your own.

If that’s a disappointing response then what you’re looking for is a ghost writer, not a Coach! But if you’re worried that working with a Coach will mean you’re co-writing a manuscript rather than doing it yourself, have no fear. Writing Coaching is there to support you, not take over.

How do I find a Writing Coach?

The most important thing is not to rush into working with the first Writing Coach you come across. It’s worth talking to a few different Coaches before deciding on one, just to get a feel for how they work and what their system actually includes—since there’s a lot of variety in what different Coaches offer.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that, although your Coach won’t try to drive the story in any direction that you don’t want to, you’ll have a smoother process and probably be more satisfied with the end result if you work with somebody whose style is already aligned with your own.

Most Writing Coaches will offer some kind of consultation to help you both figure out if the relationship would work, make sure you go into these with a clear idea of what you’re looking for and what questions you need to get answered to make an informed decision.

Here are a few things you might want to consider asking a Writing Coach you’re looking at working with:

  • My goal is X, is that something you can help me work towards? Roughly how would that process look with you?
  • How often would we talk about where I’m up to in my writing?
  • What kind of communication methods do you typically use?
  • How much experience do you have with my genre of writing?
  • How often would you give feedback, and what limits are there on the type and amount of work I can get feedback on?

You might also want to ask them if they think you’d work well together—if they are feeling like it wouldn’t be a good fit, there’s a good chance they’ll say so up front, and they may even point you in the direction of a colleague who they think you’d make a better match with.

A good Writing Coach can make a world of difference to your writing experience

Just as long as you find the right one, and know what you’re looking for from the relationship! Have you ever worked with a Writing Coach, or ever looked into hiring one?

More about Laura Buckley

Laura Liz Buckley

Laura is an experienced proofreader and editor, posting writing advice and book reviews twice a week over at lauralizbuckley.net, and she also offers a range of editing and coaching services through her site. You can also follow her on Twitter or Instagram (@lauralizbuckley) for updates.

How to PR Your WIP

Another guest blog post and this one is all about hitting that Personal Best! To learn more about today’s guest blogger, Erika Bodden, keep reading! If you want to be a guest blogger, fill out this form and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

It is common knowledge that athletes undergo rigorous physical training in order to perform their best on game day. However, there are less obvious elements to athletes’ lives that are essential to their athletic performance such as nutrition, sleep, recovery, and accountability.

As writers, we can mirror our writing process with athletic training. I encourage you to implement the following five tips into your writing. You might surprise yourself with a Personal Record as you write your Work In Progress!

1. Make Sleep a Priority

Athletes aim for a full eight hours of sleep, and writers should do the same. Not only is this beneficial to your overall health, but the dreams you experience during REM sleep may ignite ideas for your creative writing. Keep a dream journal by your bedside. When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, instead of hitting snooze, jot down what you remember from your dreams. You can refer to that dream journal on days that you experience writer’s block. Give it a try!

2. Be Consistent with Your Training

Athletes have good days and bad days, but they press on through the unfavorable results. As a writer, you may have days when your writing seems to be going nowhere. Don’t quit! Maybe you a writing a novel and are struggling with plot development. Set the story aside and write about how you are feeling instead. You might just need to empty out your thoughts in order to take in new ideas. You can designate a separate journal for this purpose; I refer to mine as my Dumpster of Doubts.

3. Adhere to Proper Nutrition

Athletes ingest foods that fuel their fitness. Reading fuels writing, and writers should be readers. I know what you’re thinking…there are only 24 hours in a day, and I already told you that you need to sleep for eight hours! Stay with me here; it’s doable. Compare reading to eating; you can have a couple snacks and three meals a day. A chapter of a book can be a meal, and a poem or news article can be a snack. Choose your meals and snacks wisely; don’t ingest fast food or junk food! Refer to nytimes.com for best selling books, and write down titles from different genres. Then go to your local library and check out the books for free. You can find quality poetry online through the poetryfoundation.org; the site also features a Poem of the Day. Lastly, read an article from your local newspaper; it is always good to be in the know with what is going on in your community. The reading that you do might be just what you need to help fuel your creativity within your own WIP.

4. Set Aside Time for Recovery

Athletes schedule in rest days during the week. On these days they focus on active recovery such as an easy bike ride, a leisurely walk, or a relaxing swim. They may also incorporate mobility routines that help keep their muscles healthy and functioning properly. As writers, we put our brain through an intense workout each time we engage in the writing process. Treat your brain like a muscle, and give it a rest! You could pedal or take a stroll around the block, or maybe you should dust off those dancing shoes! Find what works for you, and let your mind rejuvenate.

5. Find an Accountability Partner

Athletes in training have their coach to keep them accountable to their lifestyle choices. As a writer, you also need someone to keep you focused on your writing. This accountability partner could be a friend, family member, or fellow writer. I also suggest that you to follow your local bookstores and library on social media, or sign up for their e-mail blasts. This will connect you with other writers and keep you in the loop with writing workshops and writing courses in your city.

And there you have it! Five tips to on how to PR your WIP! As you write your heart out, try to keep a growth mindset. It is easy to become self critical of our own writing, but fight against that negative thinking. Allow yourself to make mistakes; that’s where learning takes place! Also, try not to compare your progress with other writers. Your writing journey is unique to you. Write on!

More about today’s guest blogger: Erika Bodden

Erika Bodden Guest Blogger

Erika Bodden was born in Bogota, Colombia and is also of Peruvian descent. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida; however, she was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Writing has been a hobby of Erika’s since her childhood. Molt and Fly Free is Erika’s personal blog, and it features various genres of her writing. Erika’s other hobbies include activities associated with nature, music, art, and fitness. You can connect with Erika on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter by visiting the links below.

facebook.com/mamacitadeperritas

instagram.com/mamacitadeperritas

pinterest.com/mamacitadeperritas

twitter.com/momofdivadogs

mamacitadeperritas.com

Author Spotlight: Sabina Lungeanu

Today, it is my pleasure to start off my author spotlight features with a wonderful writer that I met recently through Instagram. Sabina is not just a fellow author, but a fellow coffee lover and her debut novel Hiraeth just released a few days ago. Below, I’ve asked her to share a little bit about herself, her book, and her writing journey as well as an excerpt from her book. Without further ado, let’s meet Sabina!

Meet Sabina Lungeanu

Sabina Lungeanu writes dark fiction and the occasional poem thrown in for good measure. Her work has been shortlisted for the Daniil PashkoffPrize 2018 and has appeared in various anthologies. She owes much of her writing to her patron goddess, Lady Caffeine. At night, she defies the light-polluted urban skies and goes planet hunting with her telescope. Hiraeth is her debut novel. Find out more at: Instagram @sabina.scribbles

Sabina Lungeanu
Say “hello” to Sabina!

A Short Interview

1. How did you get started writing and can you share what your author journey has been like?

Books have always been an intrinsic part of my life and taking the leap from reader to writer felt like the natural next step. I started out with poetry and, to some extent, I’ll always be a poet at heart. It wasn’t until my late tweens that I discovered the charms of prose. I tried my hand at flash fiction and short stories. Two novels later and a third in the making, I’m growing more and more comfortable with long fiction. I relish its steady flow, the momentum that builds up throughout a novel, as well as the many artistic freedoms it allows.

2. What is your process from idea to draft to revisions?

I sometime wish it would be clean-cut, a clear structure to follow and rely on. My experience so far has been more on the chaotic, intuitive side. It starts with an idea, a nagging thought that won’t give me peace. That seedling needs to ripen, and it’s crucial to give it the amount of time it needs. Every story grows at a different pace and rushing it will only stifle the process. When I start writing the first draft, I remind myself every so often to get out of the way and let the story come through. Surrenderingcontrol and trusting the idea to fly on its own is scary. However, some of my best writing happens when I just let the story tell itself without forcing it into predefined patterns. I love those moments when characters develop in completely unexpected ways and surprise me, that’s when I know they’re finally alive. The revision process is an endurance test, but also very rewarding. It requires a different frame of mind, pruning and polishing, peeling off the layers until the story is at its most authentic. It’s usually after many revisions that the true essence of a story reveals itself.

3. Your bio mentions that you write dark fiction. What is that exactly and how does that play a role in your debut novel?

Dark fiction is an umbrella term for a variety of stories in different genres. What they have in common is their disturbing, gritty themes, such as death, issues of mental health, deep-rooted fears. Their purpose is not so much to terrify, but rather to unnerve the readers and immerse them in realms usually avoided. More often than not, the monsters arise from within, and human nature is portrayed in all its flawed beauty.Atmosphere plays a big role in dark fiction, and the tone can bemelancholy at times. My debut novel explores themes of vengeance, entrapment, and the alienating effect of mental illness.

4. How did you come up with the idea for Hiraeth? Also, what did you go through to find such a unique name for it?

The inkling of an idea out of which Hiraeth grew came to me in a very prosaic manner. Every day on my way to work, I’d walk by this store with an antique birdcage in its window. My mind loves to free associate, so it threw in a mysterious pocket watch, a Scottish setting by the ocean, and a ghost on top of that. The story used to have another working title, and it was only later in the process that I settled on Hiraeth. I’d seen this Welsh word somewhere and it had stuck with me because of its uniqueness. I love how it defies a direct translation into English. It’s longing, nostalgia, homesickness, and so much more. After several revision rounds, I realised it was the perfect choice for conveying the essence of my story.

5. Your novel features two different time periods, what was that like when writing the novel. How did you juggle the drafting of each time period, or did you write them separately and then edit them together?

Without spoiling anything, there’s actually more than two time periods in the novel. Juggling them was definitely a challenge. Some stories refuse to be told as a linear narrative, and this was one of them. I just wrote it all down first and then decided how the jigsaw pieces would fit together.

6. What has your debut launch experience been like? What tips would you give to first time publishing writers?

It’s been a ride and far more thrilling than I would have expected. My advice is to pace yourself. Don’t attempt to take care of everything at once. Plan ahead and include a generous time margin for various delays and last-minute changes. Last but not least, enjoy it. You’ve worked hard to get here, and you only get to be a debut author once.

7. Do you have any writer quirks or unique habits?

I’m a devout believer in coffee and its many avatars, but that’s hardly a unique habit among writers. A quirk of mine is setting up playlists for my books. Music is an essential part of my creative process, and many scenes have grown out of a particular song.

Hiraeth book cover by Sabina Lungeanu
Sabina’s debut novel, Hiraeth is now available!

Hiraeth Excerpt

– Prologue –

I’m still burning in my dreams.

Excruciating heat crawls up my arms and legs. My skin curls like paper, parting with the flesh underneath. I shout, or at least I think I do, but the sound dies on its way out. Smoke fills my lungs, black and heavy. It clings to my airways and chokes me from the inside. I fight for oxygen, a battle I know I cannot win.

My heart slams against my chest, wrestling to break free of its ribcage and fly away. Someplace where fire doesn’t exist, where no fumes taint the air.

My mother’s face takes shape in my mind. A small part of me wonders why I’m not crying yet.

Are tears even possible in this heat?

I force myself to feel something else besides sheer terror. Regret, like when I was five and the greedy waters of the bay swallowed my favourite teddy. My heart had skipped a beat, and the world dimmed just a little. Deep down, I knew it would never be quite as bright again, no matter how many new toys Mother would give me.

Some things aren’t meant to be replaced.

I look down at my body, in places already charred beyond recognition. It disgusts me, a broken shell I want to rip apart and leave behind. Nausea hits, and I gag at the smell of my own burning flesh.

Out of nowhere, strong hands lift me up. The room goes out of focus, a gigantic spinning top, myself at its axis.

Huh, so I guess they’re real. Must be some angel, one of those Mother believes in, all benevolent stares and wide, welcoming arms.

How she’d love to hear about it.

The angel takes to the stairs, and I have a split second to ask myself, Why doesn’t it fly? before the air is sucked out of me and we crash through the darkness.

I don’t remember hitting the ground.

In my head, we’re still falling. An endless, quiet fall, like snow tumbling down from the heavens.

Rage sparks up inside me, a fire deadlier than the one devouring my body. It torches my last thoughts and turns my heart to ash. Black flames fill me up like a bottle of poison.

It feels like forever, but it’s over in seconds.

I’d always thought death would be the end of pain.

Now I know it’s only the beginning.

Doesn’t that sound amazing! I know I’m definitely excited to get to read more. If you want to purchase a copy of Hiraeth, head over to Amazon and order your copy today!

10 Romance Novels You Should Read This Valentine’s

Today’s guest post is from my friend Elira Barnes and it is just in time for Valentine’s Day! If you want to learn more about Elira and read a snippet of her current writing project, keep reading! Plus, if you are interested in becoming a guest blogger on my site, fill out this form and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

Looking for some romantic reads for February, the month of love?

The best thing about romance is that it’s not only found in romance novels but in fantasy, mystery, dystopian and even sci-fi novels. Maybe it’s true that all we need is love

It’s difficult to come across a story that doesn’t have a subplot revolving around love.

If you’re looking for your next romantic read, here are ten of my favourites.

 Tell it to the Skies by Erica James

This is the story of Lydia. When she was just a child, her mother died in a terrible accident; Lydia and her little sister had to move and live with their grandparents.

Their grandparents turn out to be strict and abusive, and Lydia’s only comfort is her new friend Noah from school.

Their friendship turns into a strong romantic relationship as they become teenagers and then young adults.

But when Lydia’s uncle is found dead, a big misunderstanding occurs and Lydia is forced to escape and leave the country, leaving Noah behind with a lot of questions.

28 years later, Lydia and Noah’s paths cross, and together they venture to find out what really happened all those years ago…

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madeline is a teenager who suffers from a rare disease that makes her vulnerable or allergic to germs so she’s forced to live her life indoors, with her mother and nurse Carla.

When Olly moves next door, he and Madeline become online friends, and the more they get to know each other, the more Madeline wishes to go outside.

And as the title suggests, she is willing to risk everything, everything to go outside and be with him.

What’s surprising and shocking about this novel is the unexpected twist at the end…

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

A romance set in a dystopian setting, this story takes place in a future where love has been declared a disease; everyone who reaches the age of 18 has to be “vaccinated” against it with the procedure known as “The Cure”.

Lena grew up looking forward to her Cure, looking forward to being immune to love.

But a few months before her scheduled procedure she meets Alex, a teenager from the “wilds” who grew up quite differently from Lena.

As their relationship develops and Alex shows her the prospect of a different life than what society had prepared for her, Lena begins to question whether love is as dangerous as they made her believe to be…

 The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

Maia and her sisters were all adopted by their loving father when they were babies. When he dies, he leaves each one of them the coordinates to the places where they were born. Maia’s coordinates lead her to Brazil.

There she teams up with a local author as they dig into history to find her roots.

This leads to learning the story of her grandmother, Izabela, who in the 1920s was a young lady who wished to travel the world before she got married.

When the opportunity arises, Izabela travels with her friend to Europe, and in Paris, she meets Laurent, a young artist working with Paul Landowski on the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

The two wish nothing but to be together, but Izabela’s fiance is waiting for her back in Brazil…

 Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

If you’re not a fan of the enemies to lovers trope, you’re about to become one.

Set in the land Orisha, this YA fantasy novel follows the story of Zelie, as she ventures with her brother Tzain and princess Amari to bring magic back into their world.

Magic has been removed and is forbidden in Orisha. When princess Amari joins Zelie and Tzain’s journey, the king sends his son Inan to find them and kill them.

But on his quest to find the fugitives, Inan discovers he is able to communicate with Zelie through dreams, and he just can’t stop thinking about her… and she can’t stop thinking about him either.

 The Stolen Kingdom by Bethany Atazadeh

This a loose retelling of the story of Aladdin.

Princess Arie has a forbidden Jinni gift – she can read people’s minds. 

The neighbouring king – who is trying to get his hands on her kingdom by marrying her – is very close to finding out her secret. Arie has no choice but to find a Jinni to sever (i.e. take away) her gift.

Disguised as a commoner, she leaves her palace in search of a Jinni, when she meets Kadin – a thief, also in search of a Jinni to avenge the death of his brother.

Arie teams up with Kadin and the two slowly begin to develop feelings for each other.. You’ll find yourself rooting for their relationship.

 The Moonlit Garden by Corina Bomann

When a stranger hands Lilly a gorgeous violin saying it belongs to her family, she wants to find out about its history.

Her research leads to the learning of Rose Gallway, a half English half Sumatran violinist who lived a century earlier.

When Rose gets involved in a romantic relationship with one of her many admirers, she doesn’t know she is being stalked and that her career might soon come to an end…

This novel goes back and forth between the past and the present as Lilly learns about her heritage, while she also falls for her handsome assistant researcher.

 The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Based on a true story, this is the story of Lale and Gita, two Jews emprisoned in the Auschwitz camp who fall in love and promise each other that one day they will get out of there alive.

Apart from the romantic story, this novel also describes the horrors and brutalities the two experienced in the camp, as recounted by Lale himself when interviewed by the author.

This book might make you cry…

 To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Not a fan of mermaid stories? 

You’re about to change your mind.

Lira is a siren, a princess siren, only daughter of the Sea Queen. When Lira goes on a forbidden adventure, the Sea Queen punishes her by transforming her into a human and giving her until the winter solstice to return with the heart of Prince Elian or remain human forever.

Lira has a collection of princes’ hearts, so she definitely has the experience required. 

But this one will not be an easy conquest without her song, and it won’t get any easier if she falls for him…

 Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

Loved “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green?

Then add this book to your TBR – if you haven’t already.

Stella and Will are both hospitalised as they suffer from a disease which restricts them to stay six feet apart.

They can’t touch each other without possibly harming each other. But as their teenage romance blooms each day, it’s hard to stay so distant. They wonder if being five feet apart could actually be harmful. So they give it a try.

P.S.: No one dies in this one, but the end is still heart-breaking so prepare your tissues.

I hope you found something that meets your romance novel requirements on this list.

Have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

Elira

More about today’s guest blogger: Elira Barnes 

Elira Barnes is the author of an upcoming young adult dystopian sci-fi novel, so far known as “Project Decagon”.

Her blog elirabarnes.com is packed with writing advice, author platform tips and motivation.

Be the first to receive news, updates and exclusive content by signing up to her newsletter.

You can also follow her on:

Instagram: @authorelirabarnes

Twitter: @authorelirab

Facebook: @authorelirabarnes

Pinterest: @authorelirabarnes

Etsy: ElirasPrint

Here’s a sneak peek into Elira’s work in progess, “Project Decagon”.

He bends down so that his eyes are at mine’s level. 

“Were you, or were you not, trying to leave camp?”

I try to keep my composure, staying as calm as possible. “No, I wasn’t, Sir.”

“Oh, dear. Why do you do this to yourself?”

I don’t have time to ask what he’s talking about when he tells one of the Enforcers: 

“Take them away”.

Two Enforcers, who had apparently been standing right outside the door awaiting any possible instructions, step in and drag Raimi and Ade out of their chairs and out away of the room.

“No! Wait!” I scream at the Enforcers, then to the Commander “where are they taking them?”

Amina is terrified now. “Please sir, let them go! Where are they taking them?” she pleas.

“Where are you taking them?!” I scream one more time.

The Commander stands impassible and as calm as ever, as this is just an ordinary night in the camp.

“You’ll see,” he says.

Another two Enforcers come to grab Amina and me and push us out of the Commander’s office. “Walk,” one of them says.

One of the Enforcers is in front of us, leading the way, and the other is at our back, ensuring – or at least trying to ensure – that we don’t attempt to run away.

We are led into a grey room, with metal walls and glass mirrors. The room is empty apart from two chairs, each one on an opposite wall facing each other.

The Enforcer leading the way grabs my arm and pushes me to sit on the chair on the left side. He uncuffs one of my hands and locks the cuff to a pole next to my chair. 

I see that Amina is getting the same treatment from the other Enforcer.

When they’re done, they both leave the room and lock it behind them.

“Mina, are you okay?” I ask my friend.

“No, Kira! What do you think they’re gonna do to us? And skies! Where did they take Ade and Raimi?” the worry in her voice is so strong it’s killing me. 

What have I gotten ourselves into?

“I don’t know, I just hope they’re okay”.

A sound interrupts our talk. The mirrors on the walls are suddenly showing something else – not our reflections. We are now looking at the camp’s centre. The mirrors were actually screens.

Amina and I watch silently, not sure what we should be seeing.

After what was most likely a minute but felt like a lifetime, the screens show two enforcers carrying two men and tying them up to a pole.

Amina gasps. The two men are Raimi and Ade. And they are about to get brutally beaten.

Each one of the Enforcers brings out a stick. An electric stick, like the one Enforcer Bill almost hit me with. And then I realise, that one of the Enforcers is actually him, Bill, and he is the one positioned to hit my brother.

Skies! This can’t be happening. Please, it can’t be happening…

“Kira -” Amina whispers.

Whip. buzz. 

Bill hits Ade, and whoever the other Enforcer is, hits Raimi almost at the same time. They both shout in pain as they are being electrocuted.

“You bastards! Let them go! Stop it! Take me! Take me!” I shout and get out of my chair. I want to run to the screens but I am chained to this damn pole!
Without wanting to, I realise that I’m not just screaming hysterically, but I’m also crying. How did I get my brother and my friends into this?

Finding Writing Inspiration through Music

Today’s post is the first guest blog I’m featuring and I’m honored to have Alex Dove as my first guest blogger! To learn about becoming a guest blogger and to learn more about Alex, scroll down to the bottom!

Finding Writing Inspiration through Music

“What is the one thing that inspires your writing?”

This is a great question isn’t it?

We will get back to it in a bit. First, let’s talk about those times you have tried to put together a piece, but the words you look for are … to say the least, AWOL. I have been there too.

In the middle of writing my book, Dusk, I got so distracted by what to say that I often lost track of how to say it. That happens to other people, right? It’s not just me? Well then, you should know that it’s a thing that happens to people.

Many other people like myself (yes, I go through it a lot) go through what we call writer’s block, which is that awkward moment when you really know what you want to say but the words don’t want to work with you, so you just generally sit there, staring at the open page wishing really hard that the words come back.

The WORST one of all is when you really can’t find the motivation to do the work, you know that you have to write because, honestly, if poems could write themselves, what would they need us for? But motivation just doesn’t want to be a part of that drama club. I call that the Lazy Lingering Writer’s Syndrome (it sounds really cool).

Frustrated writer
Writer’s Block really stinks!

Sometimes, we go through all of this before we can claim to be even remotely close to starting a project, most times it happens when the project is supposed to be done but clearly the brain is not agreeing to any of that. It’s quite sad when you think about it, it is an amazing set of circumstances. I always say, “it’s funny how many things can go wrong when you need them RIGHT.”

I once, defeated, (around the time I remorsefully picked up the laptop I had thrown to the floor because it wouldn’t type in that ‘Chris was a jerk’ in a really fancy way that would make him the jerkiest jerk to ever walk the earth) sat down and plugged in my earphones. I had just started listening to Alice Phoebe Lou (absolutely amazing artist). She has ways with words and she unlocked a part of me that I never knew existed. I got so inspired (maybe too inspired) that I listened to many other artists like Zara Larson and Justin Bieber and others and I included some of their songs in the book. My favorite was “RUIN MY LIFE” and they spoke a lot to the characters’ feelings and the mood of the scene.

Which brings us to why I chose music…

Well, music has done way more than write some of my emotions for me, it has inspired my writing and has actually brought back my confidence in the craft (corny, right?). The truth is, without music, I either too distracted or not distracted enough. Sometimes when music plays in the background of my writing, I find myself so distracted by the lyrics that I end up feeling the song on a character’s level, like when I wrote a sad scene and I couldn’t think of words that I could use because my mind just hadn’t been in the right space at the time. I had been distantly listening to a song by Zara Larson (I know, I know… I am obsessed) and I started crying for no reason, I felt my heart hurt and I knew that I had to put it on paper, so I did. It came out amazing (if I do say so, myself).

I think music is the best thing to happen to my writing. I don’t know how, but I find myself finding it much more enjoyable to write and I am absolutely happy with the book. I know you will love it too.

What are some of your favorite songs or playlists to write to? Share them in the comments below!

Interested in becoming a guest blogger? Fill out this form and I’ll get back to you about scheduling and topics!

Today’s guest blogger: Alex Dove

Alex Dove
My name is Alex Dove, born and bred in South Africa 🇿🇦 Johannesburg. I am 23years of age. I have been writing since I was about 13 and it has been my passion since. I have written and published a novel on kindle and did a revised version called Dusk and is expected to be in circulation in the next month or so. I love music 🎶 ,I met Violet( my guitar) and I fell in love. I am a poet and an artist.

Find Alex on Instagram @alexdove_writes