Monday, May 18, 2020

5 Habits Every Writer Must Develop

Writing requires talent. Writing requires skill. If you don't have much talent, you can develop your skill.

There is however a third component to writing that every writer can develop and that is forming good habits. What habits do you need to become a writer?  Glad you asked.

1) Write every day.

You want to be a writer? You have to write. You can talk about your plot all day long. You can map character arcs and tell me about your world building, but unless you sit your bum in the chair, you are not a writer.

Don't talk about it. Write it. And try to write every day. Now, notice I didn't say write on your WIP every day. I don't do that. Some days are tough, but I try to write something, a letter, a journal entry or a note even when I can't get to the keyboard to work on a project. Why write every day? Writing something will keep you in the habit of remembering why you are here.


2) Keep a writing notebook. (Or two or three...)

Ideas come in a flash. Sometimes in the mid-night wakings, I have brilliant ideas. I don't need to writ them down, I tell myself.  I'll remember them. They're too awesome to forget. Sure enough, morning dawns and I've forgotten. Keep a journal. Jot down ideas. Keep it by your bedside. It can be digital. It can be a recording device. But I promise you, if you don't record these ideas, they will be lost.

3) Read.

I know this sounds intuitive and what writer doens't love to read? But sometimes I get so caught up in my life that I forget to read. Reading is fuel for your writing. I've heard to read twice as many words as you write. If your word count is 10k for the week, read at least 20k. (For me it's not about reading enough, it's about having the self-discipline to stop reading.)

4) Analyze, analyze, analyze.

Now that I've written it three times, I will never forget how to write it. But I'm serious. While you're reading, try not to get sucked into the story and try to see it as a writer instead of a reader. What is working for you and why? Did something prick at your emotions? What did the author do? If a story isn't holding your attention, what went wrong? Pick things apart. It's okay to critique something just don't be critical. You can do this with writings in your genre, out of your genre, or even movies. I like movies because it's a shared experience and I can talk with family members about what worked for them. Sometimes I get too in my analytical brain and I miss a key emotional point so it's good to get feedback from others.

5) Eat humble pie.

Get ready for rejections. Get used to critical feedback. Be prepared negative reviews. Many things are difficult about being a writer, but the best habit I think you can get into is to not take things too personally. Rejections will happen. You'll get negative feedback on your work, at least I hope you have someone honestly evaluating your work. And not everybody will love your work, even after it's been published. If you get into a habit of positive self-talk, you'll be so much happier. The world is an ugly place. You don't need to be ugly to yourself.


There are more habits. Any writers out there want to share what habits they've developed?  What's worked for you? What doesn't work for you? Do you have a routine you love?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Ten things I wish I could tell myself when I just starting out writing

As my kids get older, they are more interested in writing. At least, my two older ones. They are the ones who always have a nose in a book. So, my daughter asked me for some writing advice. I thought I'd share it here as some of you are writers in addition to readers.

#1) Finish a first draft before starting new.

When I first started writing, I had all these cool ideas. I'd start writing on the first one, then I'd jump to the next idea when the first idea became hard or when  newer, fresher ideas--ideas that hadn't been tainted by hard work and despair--came along, I would drop the story I started and worked on the newer idea.  When you actually sit down and finish something and it has a beginning, a middle and an end, you will feel so good about yourself. Then you know you can do it and you can replicate it.

#2) Don't talk, write.

If we are writers, we write. I hear a lot of people talk about their novel. I hear a lot of people saying they want to write a novel. I'll tell you a little secret about writing a novel, you have to sit in the chair and write it. Eventually, you will get there. It may be a mess, it may need to be revised a few times, but you have to write it out.  And as I always say, you can't rewrite nothing.

#3) Learn your craft.

I've said it before on my blog and I'll say it again: continue to learn your craft. Nobody knows everything and even people with several titles under their belts can learn something. But if you're starting out, you need to read books, take classes, go to conferences whatever you can do to learn.

Some of my favorite books: Story Genius by Lisa Cron and Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody.

#4) Get feedback.

There will come a point where you rework a piece until you can't tell if it's good anymore. Great! Send it to someone who can read it with fresh eyes. Beta readers, critique partners, workshops are great places to have someone read your work.

#5) Listen and don't be hard on yourself.

Be humble. Set aside your pride and your ego and let people look at your work. There will be flaws in your writing. People will point them out. Thank them. Take note. Don't get defensive, don't try to explain. Let your writing speak for itself. Also look for patterns in comments/feedback. If something is confusing over and over, then maybe you need to go back and rework it. If one person says it, decide how much you trust that person before changing anything.

#6) Have enough confidence in your writing so other people can't high jack your story

Not all suggestions are great ones. Like I said, I look for repeated feedback. But there are also people who see your work differently. Just like we all appreciate different artists, music and taste in clothing, not everyone will love your story (even after it's published). But if someone tries to get you to see a different vision for your book, thank them.

#7) Have enough humility to listen and take advice

Sometimes what people say cuts to the quick, the very heart of your soul. This is expected when you put your heart out there. Set that work aside for a few days, weeks or even years. Let the suggestion percolate. Then ask yourself this question: Could their criticism be valid? Is there any merit to their words? If you decide no, that's fine. But you might find that with time, you can see the flaw that was pointed out.

#8) Have courage to change something

Words are written in ink, pencil or by computer. They are not written in stone. Even if someone points out a huge plot hole that will make you go back and reconsider the whole foundation of your story, realize that all the work is to help you to have a better story. Have the courage to change what needs to be changed.

#9) Writing takes patience and time

Most people didn't become Olympians in a year, or two or even three. Everything that is hard requires work. And writing is hard. You have to write for a long time often before you even learn the craft. Then you have to send out your work to people to publish or perhaps you'll self-publish and you have to help draw people to your book. All of this takes time. Be patience with the craft and with yourself. When I was first writing, I was curious as to why things got rejected. Knowing what I know now, I understand why things got rejected. My story was either not good enough yet or I was not a good enough writer. It takes time and experience to see clearly what was so frustrating at the time.

#10) Send out your work

Eventually you will want to share your worlds your words with those around you. This takes courage. Hit the print button, hit the submit button, write the query letter. You'll be so glad you did. Writing is a journey of discovery. You discover yourself in your writing, you discover other truths in writing.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Know what I've got planned for 2020?

I like to write out goals every January, but by February, I've already forgotten them. Not this year. My family has a giant white board upstairs and we've written goals for our family as well as individuals. Know what I've got planned for 2020?

We made goals in four areas: physical, intellectual, social and spiritual (recognizing that we are dual beings).

For my writing goals, I couldn't decide where to put them and decided on intellectual since I learn so much while I write.

My 2020 goal is to submit three manuscripts to publication.

Why did I chose this?

Well, goals need to be independent of other's choices. Notice I didn't say three pieces accepted, hahah! Because really, that's out of my control. What I can work on is getting them ready to the best of my abilities and send them off to the world.

I'm turning in my first one this week. It's based on an idea from my publisher to write short "beach read" love stories having something to do with ice cream.

Well, when my daughter was almost twelve, we went to Alaska to visit my parents who were visiting some old friends there. (I used to live in AK when I was younger). While we were there, my dad wanted to go fishing in Seward, a small town at the mouth of Resurrection Bay. The scenery was classic Alaska--glacier blue water, stunning mountains jutting from the water, black pebble beaches, frolicking sea otters, majestic eagles, and lazy sea lions. One night, we went to the ice cream shop there and had ice cream. When my publisher issued a call for ice cream stories, I was like, I know exactly where I'm going to set this story. And I've loved it.  So be on the lookout for #1 MS for this year Summer of Sundaes.

PS I also submitted some last year. August Blues finished the first round of edits this month. Should be out this year!

Friday, December 6, 2019

THE SWISS MISHAP is nominated for the Swoony Awards

Did you know these awesome people created an award just for clean romance?  It's called the Swoony and now you get to voice your vote for THE SWISS MISHAP as the #1 New Adult romance.

Vote here!

They will ask you for your email address just to make sure there are no duplicates. I promise they won't spam you and it would really help me a lot if you'd take a few seconds to vote!

Thank you!

Amey

ETA: I won the Best New Adult Romance for 2019!  Thank you so much for all your votes! And pick up a copy of my book here.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Reviews

Every author needs reviews.

It's not about ego.

They don't have to be positive. They do have to be honest.

They don't have to be long.

Why do they need them?

Reviews help promote the author's book. It's a numbers game. The more reviews an author has, good or bad, the more Amazon and other retailers promote your book.

More reviews also gives readers a better idea of what kind of book this is. A book with three five-star doesn't impress me because it's not got a depth or breadth (a cross-section) of readers.

READ my latest review

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Writing When it's Hard

When I first started writing ten years ago, I was in the midst of the "baby years." I had two kids about four and two. I yearned for a time when I would be more free to write. I'm here to tell you, it just doesn't happen. Yes, now that I have three kids, two of them teenagers, and it doesn't get easier. I have play practice and sports practice and after school things and football games and their social calendar.

Maybe that sounds discouraging. Maybe it gives you hope. Writing is something you have to make and take time for. It doesn't just fall in your lap. Even now that all the kids are in school and I can write all day, other things come up. I volunteer at the school, at my church and recently now the HOA. There will always be things that claim your time. It's easy to say someday I'll have more time. I'll write then. In the future, I expect to travel to see my grandkids, be there for when my kids have babies and continue my volunteering efforts. You just have to sit down and do it.

One of the hardest times for me to write was after my miscarriage. Pain and grief overwhelmed me. As well as guilt. What had I done wrong to lose the baby? These were spiritual questions as well as physical questions. Was I not worthy of this blessing since I was a little resentful it was unplanned? Did getting a flu shot somehow harm my fetus? Writing through grief and pain was hard, but I believe it produced my most honest work to date. Suffering brings humility and humility makes great writing. We become a conduit for words. Our egos get out of the way and the message rings clear.

Writing can help me cope with an otherwise unhappy world. In my stories, I get to control the outcome and it's always happy. In life, not so much. Happy endings do happen in real life and we have to work for them. Writing for me is a way to right wrongs in the world. In the my first book, Baker's Dozen, the first "bad guy" you meet was a car mechanic. I had been holding a grudge because when we were really poor, (so poor we were happy to have a twenty at all!) I kept a twenty dollar bill in the car for emergencies. (In case I forgot my wallet etc.) We took the car in for something, tires or something and when the car came back, no twenty. I couldn't believe it. Well, here's thumbing my nose at the dude who took my twenty. You get killed by the mafia! It totally inspired the story. I wanted a corrupt mechanic to get his due. And it makes me laugh. I was in a low power. When the mechanic stole twenty bucks, there was no way to get justice. But writing made me laugh about it, get my own revenge and move on. I've made back my twenty. Power restored!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Updated Cover for Baker's Dozen

Happy to announce the updated cover for Baker's Dozen!



My publisher was so understanding and even asked me why I hadn't asked to have it changed before. People may be asking why the change. Well, as much as I loved the first cover with the city-scape of  St. Louis, I wanted something to reflect the funny, flirty tone of the book.

Other updates!

I found out last week that I'm a Whitney Award nominee! Thank you to all who nominated me, who believed my book worthy of such a title. If you want to read more about what the Whitney award is, click HERE.

Also, I'm trying to be more consistent with my blogging and will try to update once a week on Wednesdays!  Topics I still need to share, the LUW conference, my latest title submission and conference wins!

If you'd like more up to date info, subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on social media.

Anyway, sure love you all!

Amey

5 Habits Every Writer Must Develop

Writing requires talent. Writing requires skill. If you don't have much talent, you can develop your skill. There is however a third c...