Choosing the “Write” Publishing Path

When I started writing, I had dreams of walking into bookstores and seeing my books on shelves.

Let’s be real, what author doesn’t?

I imagined being picked up by a big publisher and making loads of money. Or, at least some money.

Again, let’s be real- what author doesn’t?

In 2015 I signed with my first agent. In 2017, I left my first agent.

The agent didn’t do anything wrong, per say. I think we were both at busy times in life and we weren’t in sync as a team.

It happens.

I don’t regret that chapter of my writing journey. I have learned from it.

Four years later, I am re-entering the writing world with a new perspective. It’s not that I still don’t dream of seeing my books on shelves or don’t dream of making money doing what I love.

It’s that I’m not so cynical about potentially doing it a different way.

I think I’ve shared before my original thoughts on self-publishing. There are those who do it very successfully, and those who I think rush it without editing or investing more into it. But if I’m honest, I’ve seen it mostly as the latter. I’ve seen it as authors who don’t have the dedication to go the traditional route.

Let me say this right now: I was wrong.

I never thought I would self publish. Maybe if there was a project my agent couldn’t sell or didn’t adore and I felt it needed to get out into the world. But I never thought I would “cut corners” and self publish because I was tired of chasing agents and publishers.

I thought self-publishing was the easy route, and I was determined to take the solid, though perceivably very difficult, traditional path.

But with age comes perspective, and the only thing constant is change, and here I am to say:

I’m self publishing one of my books.

Also, when I now think that I thought self-publishing was easy, let me say: I was wrong.

It might not be the right path for everyone, and even just a year ago I probably would have laughed if you suggested I was going to do this… but it is the RIGHT path for me at the moment.

And, who knows- this could be the start of something big!

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Writing for Joy

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a published author. Three clear memories come to my mind of defining moments.

As a courtesy, I will just share one for now.

When I was in fifth grade, we were studying explorers. We had the option for a project to either do a straight report on one of the explorers, or to create a sea monster (with some criteria) and write a short story that involved one of the explorers.

I chose the latter, and wrote and illustrated my very first picture book about Sir Francis Drake discovering a sea monster.

While I do not still have this book in my possession (here is hoping my parents do), I remember my fifth grade history teacher coming into my Language Arts class, interrupting, to inform everyone that: “Emily, I knew you would write a good story, but you wrote an actual book! You have to read it aloud.”

I felt so much joy and pride as I got to read it to the class.

This was a big moment for me. Another affirmation that I could do this. Another affirmation that I would do this.

I was going to be a published author.

Writing has always been therapeutic. I can’t say it has always been joyful. There have been times where writing has been solely to help me process and move forward. But it was there for me as needed.

Somewhere along the lines as I got older, writing was work.

(I know this is a gray area, as writing to supply my full time income would be the dream, and that’s what full time authors do.)

I don’t mean that I couldn’t handle deadlines, or I didn’t enjoy writing anymore because of having an agent, or that editing was my enemy and I didn’t want to do it. I mean, somewhere along the way, the words started feeling forced and the love and passion that I always associated with writing… wasn’t there.

This can happen as writers. I’ve written about it before.

In my busy season of life, and the pressure that seemed to come with establishing myself as a writer, and the way my brain was turning from motherhood and all the things… writing became a chore. And when it came down to it and I had to find things to cut from my time so I might reinvest in others, for the first time my writing and all that came with it (blogging, social media, querying, free lancing) met the chopping block.

But not anymore.

After taking a solid break (it had been two years since I truly revisited an idea and four years since I left my agent), I can now say I am more motivated than I have felt in so long.

Doing things for writing doesn’t feel like a chore, but a joy.

I want to make spreadsheets for research and read about different types of publishing and explore ideas that have been taking up notes on my phone storage. I want to connect with other writers and those in the writing community and do the things.

Joy in the details for the writing life.

This is what I mean for chore verses joy.

And of course I’m not always going to want to do all the things. No one does. I mean, there are those of us who love the research. Those of us who hate editing. Those of us who want to write the book and lock it up, never to share it. Those of us who want to write for the masses.

It’s all different for each of us. And that’s beautiful.

And I think one thing about allowing yourself to take space from something is if it’s meant to be, you’re going to go back to it. And if it’s not, odds are you’ll find the next amazing thing you’re meant to do.

Everything Has A Season

Hello, friends. It’s been a while. Over two years a while, actually.

Just a smile to say “hi!”

I hope you all will understand. Not only have there been so many changes for the world, but everyone has been navigating the rocky storms of life on their own ships.

Same storm, own ships. Did I get that metaphor right? I think so. Let’s just leave it there.

The past two years were a whirlwind. My family moved again, my husband lost his job thanks to Covid, we had a new baby (girl!), my husband got a new job, our plans for schooling changed… the list goes on.

With all that change and adjustment, my writing fell to the wayside. Having four kids and homeschooling 2-3 of the four while husband travels for work is no joke. My mind wasn’t up for finding new words to sew together. My mind appreciated shutting down to mindless tasks of watching shows or reading books when I couldq.

Writing wasn’t happening. I started a few things, queried agents maybe once, but really- it was a season to put those dreams on the back burner. I took the time. I stepped away. I stopped pressuring myself and saying I HAD to keep going or my dreams of being published would never happen.

I needed the space.

Space is a good thing.

Maybe space feels scary or like the end of something, but I have found as I’ve gotten older that space is necessary. After all, if you can’t do things scared, then are you really challenging your paths of life?

Space might seem like you’re letting go of someone or something, but usually it is a wonderful way to find your footing. And you can get back on that path, or start a new one entirely.

I’m finding my way back to writing.

Or rather, I am finding my way to put my writing out into the world once more.

I’m visiting projects that I still love and can picture so clearly on a shelf.

I am facing a new season, a different footing, a different path.

I can’t wait to share what that looks like with you.

finding your voice

I am currently working on a project that has been a long time coming. For almost two years it’s been festering, just waiting for me to let it out. Slowly, the plot has  grown and the words are now finding their way on to the page.

The thing about new projects, though, is that you have to step back and take the time to find your voice in it all. The characters take on their own lives, with their own dialogue and hobbies and back story and everything. As the author, we mold it… but really it can take on a mind of its own.

Already the first five chapters of this project have changed three times. Three. And while I’m on the third round of trying to bring this thing to life, I’m already contemplating an entirely different route. It would change the story, changes pieces of the puzzle I’ve been literally holding in my hands for almost two years, and yet it’s calling me.

How do you find your voice when writing a story? How do you know which way is right, and which way is the road less traveled by that could be the way?

If you came here for answers, you really should move on. I don’t have them.

The answer to the question is you. Only you as the author can decide which way is the best way, and sometimes you have to explore so many different routes and options until you happen upon the best one.

Heck, the best way can sometimes be the way you didn’t want to go. You could be kicking and screaming the entire writing time and stumble upon so many blocks that you think you’ve lost your gift. This happened to me with my first finished novel. I didn’t want to stray from the truth, until I realized that the truth just wasn’t enough. It needed to be more. Slowly the fiction truly took over, and it continues to grow whenever I finish it.

Don’t be afraid to find your voice. Don’t be afraid to rewrite the book a completely different way because you have a new idea, or someone gave you a direction that you want to explore. This is art, after all. There is no “right” way.

There are only paths yet to be traveled on, and only you can decide which one will be the path that leads you to

The End.

give thanks for your writing

In a competitive business where everyone is hoping to make a break, it’s hard sometimes to be thankful for the season you’re in.

You might just be starting out with your novel (it is NaNoWriMo after all). You might be querying, starting with your new agent, on you third agent, about to score that deal, releasing your fifth book– who knows!

The thing is, the publishing industry is a crazy, scary, beautiful place. If we didn’t know that, we wouldn’t be writers… but sometimes it’s easy to forget it.

This is just a small reminder to give yourself a pat on the back, and it’s as much for me as it is for you, reader. Remind yourself that you’re amazing because you’ve actually put words to paper. You are one step ahead of those that “want to find time” or “always wanted to write.” And if you are one of those later people that I’ve mentioned, there is never a better time than now to start.

Yes, now. I mean, maybe finish reading this…but then get your butt off here and start writing your own words.

There are never going to be perfect conditions. Maybe you think you need to work for a while so you have the time to really focus on your writing after, or maybe you want to build your family roots before you write that best seller– but if you put off writing over and over and over again… eventually you’ll miss it.

Set your mind to it. Write. Even if you can’t come up with that amazing idea, just start writing something, anything.

Anything is better than nothing.

Give thanks, writer. You are in a beautiful season- even if you don’t think you are. There’s always something beautiful to find…and something beautiful to write.

[writing] dry spells can be natural

IMG_4877If I’m being honest, I am amazed by writers who write every day. I’m amazed by writers who can sit down and hash out a novel in one month. I’m amazed by writers who plot and plan and schedule and stick to it. I’m amazed by writers, period.

But there comes a time in every writer’s life, at least I believe this to be true, that they can’t do any of it. They sit to write and instead end up on Twitter for hours. They schedule writing time and instead settle down with a good book (or a binge-worthy Netflix show). They plot out a novel for the perfect month and then they have something come up that soaks up the time they had for writing, making them unable.

Life happens. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, writing doesn’t happen.

I am in a season of life where writing is very difficult. Not because I don’t make time to write, or because I don’t have a WIP ready for my attention- but because I’m so mentally wiped that even in my scheduled time, my brain is fried. If you’ve been where I am before, or you’re in the trenches of a hard-to-write-season with me- never fear. I have heard there’s light at the end of it, and whether this season lasts for a day, month, or years- here are a few uplifting things to remember.

It won’t last forever.

You are a writer, an author. You have written before and you will write again. Because if you are a true writer, the words of your stories and the stories of others make up your core in a way that you can never escape them. This season of life might be hard, and the well of creativity might run dry at the end of the day. Whether it’s because you are chasing little kids around day in and day out, or you’re starting a new job, or you’re going through some health issues, or someone you love has health issues– there could be so many reasons I can’t even continue, but whatever it is- know that it’s normal.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

As a writer, it’s hard not to see the success rate of others and play the comparison game. Whatever “success” looks like to you, remember that you are succeeding. Your life experiences, even the dry spells, contribute to your writing fuel. Some day you’ll sit down and remember what it was like to have no words, and spit out thousands onto a new page. Celebrate that you’re reading a book, or gaining experiences for a story, or blogging to keep those words flowing (woot woot). Don’t be hard on yourself. Celebrate yourself, because you need it now more than ever.

Just keep going.

Push through the season.

More than that, enjoy it. Enjoy this season of life- even if it sucks.

You might be craving the feeling of your fingertips brushing keyboard keys in a way that makes your head spin because the words are coming faster than your fingers can type. You might be reading someone else book and feeling as though you can do that, and start feeling low because you haven’t done it in a long time. You might be mad at this season because all you want to do is sit down and write and you feel a little robbed of your passion because it is who you are.

All of these things are normal, my friends.

Every writer who is a true writer will not walk away from it. You will come back for more, and the world will be waiting for your masterpieces.

 

pitch wars: pimp my bio

I’m doing something a little different today, y’all. My writing path has taken a lot of twists and turns as of late, but all for the best! Today I’m taking part in a little blog hop for Pitch Wars. Don’t know anything about Pitch Wars? Check out Brenda Drake’s blog for the details!

Who am I?

imageHeyyyyy. My name is Emily. I write Picture Books and Young Adults. I love Contemporaries and Historical Fictions Young Adults, so that’s where I sway with writing them! Picture Books are usually inspired by my three boys (5, 2, newborn!).

I am an extroverted introvert. I love people and going out and doing magnificent things– until I don’t, and then I’m very much over it. I am a homebody and not just because of my three kids, but because I love my comforts (if I’m being honest).

Living in Arizona means that we are pretty much hermits from May – October, which is a big change from where I come from (Western North Carolina, Asheville area). We’ve been in the desert for almost four years and I’m still not quite sure what to make of it.

So, a few fun things:

  • I grew up as one of three girls and now I’m a mother of three boys. Talk about a change!
  • I’ve known since the age of six I wanted to be a writer, even though I took some detours along the way (theater, music… other artsy-fartsy things).
  • I am a very passionate person (think Anne Shirley) and tend to put my whole being into everything I do. If I’m not feeling it, it doesn’t happen. My passion has to be in it– this can be wonderful and terrible at the same time.
  • My heart is in North Carolina, which is hard to admit since when I moved there at the wonderful age of 13 I swore I would hate it forever. Now it’s home- where I went to school, met my husband, married my husband, and had my oldest boy. I think it will always be home in many, many ways.
  • When I’m consumed by a writing project I tend to dream about it. A lot. It’s actually how I get a lot of my ideas. It’s definitely part of my process, in a weird sort of way.
  • I loooove being outside (another hard part about summer in the desert). Hiking, walking, beaching, laking… whatever and however you want to put it. Give me a body of water and some mountains- I’m one happy gal.

For more fun facts you can check out this post annnnnd this post, too. (Every birthday I like to share a few things about myself.)

MISSING

MISSING is a YA Contemporary loosely based on my personal experience when my high school best friend went missing and her remains were discovered when I was in college.

Sixteen-year-old Annie’s best friend is missing, and fingers may be pointing at her. Somehow classic good-girl Michelle disappeared without warning, launching Annie into a world of interrogations and secrets where everyone thinks she holds the key as Michelle’s number one confidante. As Annie tries to connect the dots of the case, Michelle’s sketchy dad makes it difficult as he paints a different picture of who his daughter was compared to the friend Annie thought she knew. Determined to uncover the murky truth surrounding Michelle’s missing person’s case, Annie starts to lose herself in an overflow of guilt, fear, and the desire for revenge.

When Michelle’s remains are found three years later in a location skeptically close to Annie’s childhood home, everyone starts finding closure, everyone except a 19-year-old Annie who is interrogated as a suspect in the new homicide case. Just when Annie is losing hope of ever discovering the truth, she’s approached by Michelle’s younger sister, Sam, who is now at the age when Michelle started having trouble with dear old dad. She has her own suspicions as to what happened to her half sister— and wants Annie’s help to prove it.

MISSING is a contemporary young adult with a PRETTY LITTLE LIARS meets THE FACE ON THE MILK CARTON feel, complete at 87,000 words.

Writing Process

big-changesMy writing process usually means sitting down with caffeine and freshly baked goods and spitting out some words/ revisions. I’m someone who goes for a vigorous walk (sorry, not a runner), whips something up in the kitchen, and then feels the words flowing.

I truthfully don’t write every day. At all. I know people swear writers should, but I see that everyone woks differently. When I’m on a roll, or deadline, I’ll definitely devote myself to writing as much as possible days in succession. But if I’m a little dry or have other pressing priorities- I give myself grace. I wouldn’t be a writer without my friends and family, so I can’t ignore them for the sake of my art (all the time, anyway).

A Perfect Mentor…

I would love someone who is in love with my novel as is, but sees even more potential with suggestions and edits. I love working with people to perfect the story and add more where it’s needed and take away what’s not.

This book has been through soooo many revisions over the last decade, I don’t want a mentor to be afraid to work on it with me because of the event that inspired it,

I would love a mentor that can guide me and eventually become an amazing connection/friend/…well…mentor. The writing world is a scary, beautiful, intimidating place and the more writing friends/mentors one has, the better it is and the more possible dreams seem.

 

Good luck to everyone! Please feel free to connect/reach out. Other places to find me:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

bad habits as a writer

IMG_0133Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

As writers, we often see advice circling the inter webs. Whether you’ve joined writing groups/pages on Facebook, or you’re plugged in on Twitter, or you follow tons of writing blogs (ahem)- you’ve probably seen it all.

What NOT to do as a writer.

What to do to be a successful writer.

The best habits of successful writers.

Advice from [insert known author here].

All of these things are wonderful, don’t get me wrong. And I’ll be honest and say this piece probably isn’t 100% different from something else you’ve read. But if I’ve learned anything as a writer, it’s that every writer’s process is different. So it doesn’t hurt to read as much advice as possible, and read it all with a grain of salt.

My bad habits are a writer are as follows:

procrastination

self-doubt

chasing new book ideas before finishing another one

At least two of these aren’t always bad things for others, but for me they can be crippling. Here’s what I’ve learned to do with each of them– or what I’m still learning to do.

Practice makes progress, right? Something like that.

Procrastination

It’s no surprise that this is one of my downfalls. I am a procrastibaker. When I can’t think of what to write next, I turn to baking (and eating) a lot. It’s easy to procrastinate with social media and, well, life getting in the way of writing.

But I’ve learned that if I truly set aside a time– even if that time is just once a week, or preferably once a day– and make it my own, I do much better.

It doesn’t keep me from getting on Twitter and complaining about writer’s block or posting a picture on Instagram about my writing layout, but it does at least make me commit that time to things that revolve around writing.

Usually, when that happens- I can hash out a few words and count it as a success.

Self-Doubt

This one is killer, guys. Doubting yourself, your dreams, your goals, your abilities– this is a big NO-NO.

The problem with that, though, is it means it’s even easier to give into.

If you’re sitting down to write and have no words, or you suddenly think your book isn’t good enough, or a writer friend is having more success than you, or you had to part ways with your agent and you doubt if you’ll score another one, or you got rejected from a publishing deal, or you got a bad review– all these things can make that DOUBT seep in big time.

I’m not telling you to not acknowledge the doubt. I’m not telling you to NOT talk to someone and ignore it, or to not cope because you shouldn’t have this “bad habit.” I’m telling you it’s NORMAL to feel self-doubt.

Just don’t let that doubt make you give up. Don’t let that doubt keep you from seeing your amazing potential. Because if you’ve come this far, you HAVE potential. Cope how you need (I suggest baking/ice cream/wine/coffee dates), and then get back to writing / trying!

 

Chasing New Book Ideas… before finishing another one

I’ve written on this before. Chasing new book ideas is not a bad thing at all. Having ideas is what helps you as a / makes you a writer.

But time and time again I’ll find myself starting and stopping, starting and stopping, starting and stopping.

Sometimes this is for the best– especially if an idea cannot pan out (whether it’s because you don’t have enough to fill it in, or the story just isn’t good, or whatever the case).

If this is the only writing that one is doing, though… it might be time to reevaluate.

When I get into this cycle, I know it’s time to sit down and plot. Look at a new idea and see if it’s a FULL idea, or if it’s just a scene that I really want to write. If that’s the case, it’s better as a short story or something saved for a project it will fit into some day. Write that bit, get it out of your system- give it life- and then continue on with something else that has more grit.

 

As I’ve said, every author is different. Some have designated writing time daily, some only need it once a week. Other writers are in a different season of life and may only get a weekend a month to truly WRITE. And that’s OK. Every writer is different.

In the end, the best you can do is to admit your bad habits as a writer- or what you see as bad habits- and find a way to process them. Acknowledging them is the first step, and then you can move forward in defeating them. They won’t disappear by any means, but they will become more manageable.

Who knows. Maybe they will disappear. But I haven’t gotten that far just yet.

 

 

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, to include keeping the 500 followers mark!

This post was originally written and published on Stark Contrast Editing and has been posted previously on this site as well. Check out the amazing services Katelyn and staff have to offer (and for more pieces by yours truly).

 

writing for quality over quantity: beware of the dreaded word count

IMG_4939These days, every genre has its requirements/preferences.

Adult Novels can be up around 80k, sometimes higher.

YA it’s good to be between 55k-80k.

PB you shoot for 28-32 pages, keeping it below 1,000 words so it doesn’t seem too long.

MG is safe between 20k-55k, depending on subject matter.

(Thanks for the info, Writer’s Digest!)

But the truth of the matter is, focusing on word count while you’re writing can throw off your groove. You’re afraid to add that subplot that the book needs because it will push you over that high number of word count. Or, you’re book is a little shorter and you’re worried that will scare away agents/editors/publishers. Whatever it is- it’s hard not to think about the word count.

So how do you do it? How do you write, submit, edit (and so forth) without worrying about the end number of words that will be sitting at the bottom of your word document?

Remember it will CHANGE

Word counts change with every draft, every edit, every time you sit down to look at your masterpiece. This is why it’s so important to have writing counterparts- your critical readers and writing buddies and critique partners and editors and fellow writers. If you do it all on your own, then your work is more than likely never going to be as good as it can be.

Keep exceptions in mind 

Books push boundaries. As readers and writers this is good to keep in mind. I’m not saying that you should be like Ulysses and have your opening sentence being pages and pages long, but it’s good to keep in mind that there are always authors who can push those boundaries/limits/suggestions and do it well. Maybe your MG is a little long, and it worries you– but it is all together and beautifully rafted. Don’t worry. Either someone will love it, or someone will help you tender it to the right word-length.

Just keep WRITING

Goodness knows that if you focused on everything that could go wrong, or everything that is wrong, or everything that you NEED to do to get your novel there– it would never be written. My first book I was so concerned with the chapters being the same amount of pages that it almost kept me from writing certain scenes, and almost made me write in things that weren’t needed. In fact, if you ask my editor, she’ll tell you these things were there in the first draft. Because I was SO worried about hitting a certain amount of words, that I lost track of what I was really writing.

As always, my final suggestion is to just keep going. Write what you have in mind, and then whether you need to add or cut- it’s going to be alllllll right.