writing through the distractions

I am the worst at taking my own advice.

Here I am trying to write a piece about writing through the distractions–and I’m distracted. A load of laundry that needs to be put in the dryer, an appointment that needs to be changed, activities that need to be planned, books that need to be researched…

See what I mean?

Distractions.

writing through the distractions

We always have to-do lists, let’s be real. Even if you don’t write yours down or you’re REALLY good at not thinking about the things you need to get done, they’re there, lurking in the shadows of your brain.

And that’s just part of it.

Nowadays, there are more distractions than the things you need, or even want, to do. There’s Facebook and snapchat and Twitter and Instagram and, well, Google. The world is at your fingertips on your phone, computer, watch…you get it. There’s no escaping the distractions.

So how do we sit down and clear our mind to let words find form on pages so that we may follow through with our passion, our work, dare I say–our calling?

KNOW YOUR BEST TIME OF DAY

Don’t plan to write in the morning if you know you’ll be distracted by the to-dos, the planning, the emptiness of the day before you. Don’t plan to write at night if you know you’ll be too tired.

Plan to write (yes, plan) when you know you’re at your best. While creativity can strike at times we don’t expect, and in those cases we have to go with it, still have a time PLANNED in case other things cloud your day.

CLEAR YOUR MIND

Totally easier said than done. When that time you’ve planned finally comes, find a way to zone out. Whether it’s playing some music or baking before you write–do something to clear your mind and make way for those words. I usually make a list of what I still need to do and then bake while listening to classical music.

Yeah, I do it all, just to make sure I’m in the zone.

ACCEPT THE INEVITABLE

There’s no escaping the world. If you don’t turn off your phone, someone may call or text. If you have kids, one may bust in and throw off your groove. If you have roommates, they can be noisy or bug you. That’s just how it is. The important thing is to set aside that time, and if it gets interrupted, get back to it as quickly and the best as you can.

Writing is work. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Writing, revising, editing—it’s a cycle that we must go through, but you get something at the end.

You get to say:

“I wrote a book.”

And even better, someone else will get to read it someday. It’s a constant fight to get your words into the hands of your readers, but they will be so glad you did.

 

 

This post was originally written for & posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog. Make sure to check out Katelyn’s amazing new site and the services she and others offer. Plus, more posts by yours truly!

Starbucks giveaway winners

I want to thank everyone who entered to win the $10 and $5 gift cards to Starbucks! Most entries happened on Instagram, pushing me to over 100 followers! (It doesn’t sound like much, but totally made my day!)

There will be more giveaways in the future, but that’s not what you’re here for!

The winners were chosen using random.org. The $10 giftcard goes to emma_the_shadowhunter on Instagram and the $5 goes to Diana Meredith, Instagram and Facebook follower!

Thank you, again, to all who entered. Check back in the future for more opportunities to win some fun things! Now that I’ve tested the waters for a giveaway there’s no going back.

 

Have be a happy Monday!

“Salt to the Sea” review

imageI was very excited to pick up Ruta Sepetys latest book, Salt to the Sea, as my next new read. I’m ashamed to say this is the first of hers I’ve read, and am now counting down the minutes before her other book, Between Shades of Grey, arrives in my mailbox.

After being slightly hungover from reading Passenger, I should’ve known this historical fiction was going to leave me dry in a different way. The four characters who I got to know and experience the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff with left me questioning myself as an adult and how I would have acted when I was younger. Emilia, most of all, left my heart aching.

Admittedly, it took me quite a while to really get into the book. Bouncing from one point-of-view to another left me, well, confused. The book started off with each character having a short introduction, to the point that I had to flip back and forth a few times before I got the characters straight. This seems common enough, but it kept me from getting deep into each character for the first fifty pages or so.

The writing style, however, and the over-all story and development of characters was just beautiful. Rita Sepetys seems like a kindred spirit to me, not hesitating to share with her audience the gruesome images of a worse-than-Titanic moment in history. Sepetys does not hold back, and it is because of that I was pulled deeper into the moment and blurry to the world around me as I followed Emilia, Joanna, Florian, and even Alfred, into the sea.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but as this book is about an incredibly journey through East Prussia, ending with the sinking of a German vessel near the end of WWII… you shouldn’t be surprised that you’ll end the book with tears in your eyes and heart.

My favorite part of this book was actually found in Sepetys’s note at the end. She said:

“If historical novels stir your interest, pursue the facts, history, memoirs, and personal testimonies available. These are the shoulders that historical fiction sits upon. When the survivors are gone, we must not let the truth disappear with them.

Please, give them a voice.”

This is put into words exactly how I fell. Why I love reading historical fiction so much, and ultimately why I love writing it.

But that’s sharing for another time.

If you don’t mind taking a few pages to get your characters straight, and you’re intrigued by more than your typical WWII book– this one is for you.

 

 

 

 

Want $10 or $5 to Starbucks? There’s still time! Here’s how you can enter:

1 Entry: Follow this site 🙂

1 Entry: Like the Facebook page

1 Entry: Follow on Instagram

1 Entry: Follow on Twitter

1 Entry: Share your favorite post on Twitter or Facebook and tag me when you do!

Make sure to comment on here, Facebook, or Instagram with everything you did! Extra entry opportunities have been shared on Instagram. Open until Saturday, March 26th at midnight EST. Winner announced Monday, March 28th. Good luck!

respect your inner writer

imageI have not been respecting my inner writer.

Let’s just get that out of the way.

I’ve had a hard time lately getting much done. I don’t mean to sound whiny, or negative, but it’s true. There’s been mostly playing catch-up and acting like I can somehow get ahead of everything I have on my plate.

And let’s be real, we all feel that way some times.

I recently got a rejection that I didn’t want to mention or share on here. Partially because I think it’s unprofessional, and partially because it felt like a below-the-belt rejection. However, rejection is a part of life… and if I can’t share at least the big picture fact that I was rejected, then this doesn’t seem like a place I’m being honest with everyone.

The thing is, because of that rejection I started plunging into different projects. I was avoiding sitting down and writing, because I was afraid that my writing was no longer worth it.

Call me melodramatic, but it’s how I was feeling.

Everything was so personal. The words, the reasons, the rejector. And as much as authors have to grow an extra layer of skin for these types of things, there is no denying that some rejections are going to hit harder than others.

And this one, my friends, hit HARD.

After looking around, I stumbled upon this article by Alice Osborn (poet and author).

Suddenly I realized, she was right.

No, she doesn’t mention rejection or how to handle it. In fact, this post has nothing to do with rejection. It has everything to do with being a writer. We have to respect ourselves and our craft, and not just talk about it.

That’s all I’ve been doing. I’ve been talking about writing. And writing about writing. But, ironically, I haven’t been WRITING.

I’ve been talking about my latest book, or my book that’s on submission, or another new book idea, or what I want to do to an old project… but I haven’t been doing. I’ve just been talking.

That’s no good.

We have to respect ourselves as writers.

What does that mean?

It means setting the stage to get our jobs done.

We don’t write because we want to, we write because we HAVE to. There’s a burning fire way down deep that can vibrate through our bones, our veins, through our fingertips. That fire is what keeps us going, and only we have the power to squelch it or help it grow.

No one said it was going to be easy.

The things that are worth it in life are never easy.

Love. Beliefs. Jobs. Relationships. Goals. Dreams.

They all hold their own challenges, and we find out what kind of people we are when we decide to reach for them, to hold them, to protect them, to perfect them.

But in order to do anything, we first have to have self-worth and self-respect.

So, I’m challenging myself to follow the steps from that article.

Set boundaries. Show up. Take risks. Make goals. Invest.

WRITE.

 

 

 

Have you been devaluing your inner writer? What do you think you can do to change that?

 

Want a $10 Starbucks giftcard to treat yourself? Here’s how you can enter!

1 Entry: Follow this site!

1 Entry: Like the Facebook page

1 Entry: Follow on Instagram

1 Entry: Follow on Twitter

1 Entry: Share your favorite post on Twitter or Facebook and tag me when you do!

Make sure to comment on here, Facebook, or Instagram with everything you did! Extra entry opportunities will be shared on Instagram tomorrow as well. Open until Saturday, March 26th at midnight EST. Winner announced Monday, March 28th. Good luck!

 

dear friday

dear fridayDear Friday,

It’s been one of those weeks.

One of those weeks that leaves me hoping I can just curl up and binge read this weekend. Or write to my heart’s content. Or both.

Ok, that’s every week. But the feeling is stronger today.

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve missed escaping reality to live with other characters. Characters who usually have bigger problems than I do (especially with my current read: Salt to the Sea by Rupta Sepetys). Characters who usually have something to teach me. Characters from a different time, a different place, a different way of life.

I’m aching for their company.

As for writing, it would be nice if I could figure out where my own story is taking me. It all seems to be an interconnected mess, like a bowl of linguine.

Don’t let me down, Friday. You are either the beginning to a couple extraordinary days, or the means to an end before beginning the week again.

Only you can decide.

Sincerely,

Emily
Looking for some blogs to check out this weekend? Here are a few of my personal fave:

Book Sense

Helping Writers Become Authors

YA Love

 
Getting closer and closer to hosting my first giveaway! Make sure to follow me on Instagram and like my Facebook page so you don’t miss out!

the dating pool of critique partners and writing buddies

imageThe first time I tried to write a full-out novel was in high school. One night my best friend was sleeping over and all of a sudden we had this amazing idea. We started bouncing plot lines off each other and names and characters and backstory.

Before you knew it, we were starting the book.

We planned out research and had a floppy-disk (oh, yeah, way back when) and binder dedicated to all the amazing things we did and found. It was amazing.

And that’s how our friendship died.

Ok, not really, but pretty close.

You see, writing a book is so personal that as we grew and wrote together, we drifted apart with little more to talk about than the amazing novel we were putting together.

And that creates problems.

We were less and less friends/writing buddies, and more and more business partners, because coauthoring a book doesn’t always work, but that’s a different tale.

The point is, it IS important to find a writing buddy and critique partner, but you have to have a person that is either close enough that you can encourage and push, but you respect enough so you can withstand criticism and suggestions.

How do you find this mysterious balance?

1. Test drive.

Not everyone is great for a writing buddy or critique partner. Some aren’t meant to be both. If you try to be someone’s CP and they can’t stand the way you do things, or vice versa, then you tried! Shake hands, and move on. You don’t want to feel obligated to stick with someone, which is why it’s important to be solely professional or have a friendship that can withstand the heat.

2. Balance is key.

You want to find someone that you can work with. Sometimes it takes give and take, and it ALWAYS takes feedback. Let each other know when and how you work best. Find someone you know will push you to write with encouragement and loving force, but not hold it against you if you’re in a slump and truly just CAN’T. If that’s what you need. We all work differently. But everyone needs the balance of love and encouragement with honesty and drive. If you have a CP or writing partner who never pushes or encourages you to keep going, then you’re probably in the market for a new one.

3. Keep the competition at bay.

While you want someone who knows your subject and enjoys it, you may not want someone who’s writing in your identical field. Why, you ask? Because it brings out the competitive nature of writing. You can be 100% supportive and still be bitter if someone gets a deal before you. It helps to soothe this green-eyed feeling with, “Well, we write different things. It will be my turn soon.”

4. Just keep swimming.

Even if you haven’t found that special person to encourage you or exchange manuscripts with, it doesn’t mean you should stop writing.

Keep going. Keep dreaming. Keep writing.

Eventually, you’re going to see that book in print. And if you do find that special someone to be part of your writing life, you’ll be just as proud when you see their book in print as well.

The picture is of me and my fabulous CP, Nikki Roberti.

 

This post was originally written and published on Stark Contrast Editing. Check out the amazing services Katelyn and staff have to offer (and for more pieces by yours truly).

life & balance & seasons

imageOften times, I run through a day complaining about how little time I have. How much there is to do. What I need to plan for the rest of the week. Who I need to call or who I should get in touch with.

Go, go, go.

It’s so easy these days. I’m the worst at getting disconnected from living and reveling in this beautiful life, and instead just looking at it like a long to-do list.  Something to get through. Something to get DONE. And then, even if every day is slightly different, it all seems monotonous.

How sad is that?

I want to make a name for myself. I want to have a social life. I want to invest in my family. I want to have a foundation in Christ. I want to reach others. I want to lead by example. I want to have a clean house. I want to have a pretty yard. I want to do Pinterest projects.

Balance.

That was is my word for 2016. I had this idea that I would find the magical way to balance everything I wanted to do without stress and with a thankful heart/good attitude.

Admittedly, I probably didn’t realize how great of a goal that really was, or how heavy that word truly is.

“There is TIME for everything and there is a SEASON for every activity under the heavens.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is time for everything. There is a season for everything.

It just might not happen during the time I want it. Or the season I’m in may not be the one I’m looking for.

Now I’m trying to enjoy life. To bask in the season of my life that is the present, and remember that I can’t do it all alone. And if I keep trying, I’m going to keep falling on my face.

Right now, I’m putting one foot in front of the other and keeping my eyes up instead of down.

 

What do you do to stay in the present and balance what you want to do, and what you need to do, and what you “should” be doing?

a reader lives one thousand lives

one thousand livesWhen I was in high school our homeroom met for about ten minutes and the students were divided up the same every year. We were in alphabetic order, so I always had the same person sitting in front of me, next time, behind me…it never changed.

There was a kid who sat in front of me who always asked me how many books I had read that day, or that week. He especially loves Monday’s because he would get to ask me how many books I read over the weekend. Sometimes it was only two, sometimes four. Once I was so excited to tell him I had read seven books between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.

I think I started seeing it as a challenge. “I want to be able to tell him I read more.”

Near the end of our senior year, I finally had the guts to ask him why it intrigued him so much. Part of me was so afraid I’d find he had been making fun of me for four years, but the other part of me–the stronger part–wondered if it was just something to talk about. But his answer always stays with me.

“I’m such a slow reader. It amazes me that you can read so fast, and so many books at the same time, and soak up all those stories. I wish I could do that.”

I was floored.

Part of me felt proud. My older sister and I had times each other to see how long it took us each to read a page of a book since I was about eight. The other part of me wondered if he had a right to be amazed. Because I got to thinking, and asking myself: was I really soaking up all the stories?

Some of them, yes. I always go back to my favorites. But some of them were just fillers. Books to read to pass the time. Those books I couldn’t really remember.

Suddenly I began to panic. I’ve been reading WRONG. I should be slow…and steady…because that’s the true winner, right?

Well, I listened for a millisecond or so before I pulled out my book and started pushing through it. I wanted to finish it. To add it to my list. My ever-growing list.

Now that time and life have forced me to slow down, I’ve learned that I don’t mind having a shorter list. I know there are so many books out there, and truth be told– time and mortality will keep me from reading all the books that I’d probably enjoy.

Yes, that makes me sad. But I’ve come to terms with it.

Quantity isn’t quality. That’s how the saying goes, right? I’ve slowed down to picking new books with precision, and made sure to revisit books that I might have sped through. I revisit the timeless tales that are my favorites, and balance them with the new and exciting books I find on various shelves.

But I’m not reading for anyone else.

I’m not reading to brag about how many books I finished. I’m not reading to keep up with the literary crowd. I’m not reading to make a name for myself.

I’m reading to live one thousand lives. I’m reading to enjoy the beautiful words so many authors toiled over. I’m reading to go on countless adventures. I’m reading to learn lessons that can’t be lost in the pages.

I’m reading to, well, live.

“A reader lives one thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R.R. Martin

If nothing else, I will read one thousand books before I die. Just so I can live up to this quote.

Do you have a numbered list of all the books you’ve read?

 

 

 

Make sure to follow my Instagram for more writerly & bookish things. Giveaways are in the future, starting with the 100 followers mark!

“Passenger” review

imageThere are many books that leave me wanting more.

And I mean that in the best of ways.

More time with the characters. More chances to know their deepest secrets. More adventures to share with the characters. More, more, more.

And PASSENGER left me wanting more.

This is the first book I’ve read by ALEXANDRA BRACKEN, but it won’t be the last. She has a way of taking a reader through history that leaves one feeling like it’s so many books in one.

The very beginning reminded me of Libba Bray’s A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, with Etta being thrown into an unfamiliar life with a surprising gift she had no idea she possessed.

I was transported with Etta and Nicholas through time wishing it would go on because I wanted to experience the era longer.I am a historical fiction guru, so the twist with the time travel was an all time win for me. I mean, America in 1776? Paris in 1880? London in 1940?? Um, yes, please!

Bracken’s descriptions and talent to voice each point of view kept me so wrapped up, admittedly I read well into the night on more than one occasion (and fought sleep because I didn’t want to miss what happened next).

With a surprising turn of events near the end, one I was grateful for because I was preparing to go on a spoiler rant, I am now in a lull just WAITING for the next book. To my dismay, I didn’t realize that PASSENGER just came out this year.

How much longer will I have to wait??

If you haven’t read this YA treasure, you need to. If I had the authority, I’d say that’s an order–but I hope you’ll just take my word for it.

finding the time to be a writer

I’ve been the worst at making time to write lately. (My life is a constant state of chaos.) So at the end of the day I try to justify it by reminding myself of everything I got done… and then promise I will write at least 500 words the next day.

finding time to be a writerBut the next day turns into the next day, and then the next day, and then the day after that, and so on and so forth until I can’t remember the last time I really sat down and WROTE.

The thing is, I have to stop telling myself I don’t have time today, and instead ask myself, “Is it a priority?”

The answer there should always be the same: YES.

If you’re a writer, writing is always a priority.

Yes, we usually have other lives. A daytime job, school, family, a social life to keep up with– but writing is still at the top of the list. If we keep putting off the words in our heads, soon enough we may find ourselves forgetting them.

And we don’t want that.

But how do we find the time we say we don’t have? How do we sacrifice something that sounds fun in the moment, for sitting down and very possibly having writers block? It’s not easy, but I have a few suggestions.

  1. Make the time.

This sounds silly, but it’s not. Pick a time of day where you know you’ll have an opening. Whether it means waking up a half hour early or cutting your Netflix time short, do it. Don’t just find the time—reserve it. Reserve that time to let the voices inside your head come alive and speak on those pages. You owe it to yourself, and to your future readers.

  1. Carry it with you.

Whether you have Google Docs on your phone, an ongoing note, an easily accessible laptop, or a good ‘ole pen and paper—have something with you to write on, always. There is a time in everyone’s day, or even in the middle of the night, where an idea strikes, and you don’t want to be panicking to find something to write it on. This helps enable your ability to write, always.

  1. Don’t feel guilty.

That one friend that you haven’t hung out with in forever is begging you to go out, but the wheels are turning and you haven’t had this much inspiration in, well, forever. Tell your friend you’re sorry and keep those keys clicking. If she’s not a writer, she may not understand—but she’ll get over it. Never feel guilty telling someone “no” because you’re writing. It is a part of who you are, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice that.

All in all, everything is easier said than done—but if you want to get that book finished, you have to make the time to do it. You can’t blame lack of time for not doing what you love, because really that only leaves one person you can blame.

Don’t be that person.

Be a writer.

 

 

Make sure to follow my Instagram for more writerly & bookish things. Giveaways are in the future, starting with the 100 followers mark!

This post was originally written and published on Stark Contrast Editing. Check out the amazing services Katelyn and staff have to offer (and for more pieces by yours truly).