Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I've Moved

Hello, all!

Just a quick announcement: I purchased a domain and hosting and have moved the site here. Click the link to follow me over so we can keep engaging!

Thanks so much!

Path to Publishing: J. W. Cirilo

Path to Publishing is a new blog series in which I interview published authors. It's a great way for them to get free exposure as well as help other writers who are trying to get published. This week, I'm featuring new adult fiction writer J. W. Cirilo.

The Magician's Nephew Book Cover


What's your name? What do you write?

My name is J.W. Cirilo and I write primarily New Adult Fiction, particularly what I like to refer to as folk fiction.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

That's actually a difficult question to answer for me. I don't actually remember a time in my life when I wasn't a writer. From a very early age I'd been scribbling song lyrics and poetry in crayon (albeit not very good ones). All the encouragement and praise I got growing up fostered the need to attach myself to my writing.

What books have most shaped your writing and why?

Another very difficult question. I grew up with the Harry Potter series and Lemon Snicket's masterpiece, "A Series Of Unfortunate Events," so I'd have to say those two series, both I've left unfinished because, much like Matt Smith, I hate endings! I've read a lot on the in-between, and there are so many influential books that have no doubt inspired and helped realize my genre and shape me into the writer I am and the writing I do, but really what shaped my writing primarily was music, not so much books. That's probably blasphemous, what I just said, in terms of the literary world.

What's one book you can reread without getting tired of it?

"The Magician's Nephew" by C.S. Lewis. I'm kind of a kid at heart, I guess. There's just something so inspired about his world, and it's one of the very few titles in my library I find myself coming back to repeatedly every five or so years.

How do you feel about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?

Self-publishing writers, in my feeling, very often jump the gun on what they're doing. With traditional publishing, you have gate keepers, editors, artists- whole teams of people working on making your art both marketable and personal. Self-publishing is as easy as click and post these days, especially with KDPS and Ingram, but if a self-publisher invested the time and money into meticulously crafting their book, I think that's more personal and intimate. If working in journalism has taught me anything it's that writing is a lot more about having your voice heard and your work appreciated than making money. 

There's probably a huge list of artistic powerhouses not limited to the great Neil Gaiman that one could cite as traditional publishers who have remained creatively true to their craft, but I would argue even he would agree, if your wish is just to be read and not try to make a semi-stable career out of this, self-publishing probably isn't the worst road (assuming you take it seriously). Both are incredibly difficult endeavors to partake in, so it's really just a preferential thing; do you want to work with a company, or have the burden of the lot left on your shoulders?

What's your writing routine like? What about your process?

My writing routine has barely anything to do with a routine, or writing for that matter. A lot of it is spent pacing around my apartment with a tennis ball arguing with myself over direction, pacing and scenes that I'm not fully comfortable with yet. Eventually something strikes me like a diamond bullet and that's when I sit down to begin punching away at the keyboard for eight hours or more. Once I've started, it's nearly impossible for me to stop. That is, unless I run out of idea or wrote something especially "brilliant' that I just can't top. At that point, I have to stop and come back later or the next day because everything after a great line just looks like filler. 

I need that refreshing celebration for a time, and if it means I only got a few hundred words done, that's fine. I'm in no rush for deadlines right now, and hopefully my readers will appreciate that patience when the finished project falls on their lap. 

How did you get published?

Funny enough, I went to school with the CEO of the company that would hire me as an editor for their quarterly magazine. It was a bit of serendipity, I suppose. We worked at the school paper together for a few months and then he asked me out of the blue to come write for them. One thing lead to another, I pitched my novel, and book deal! Not very exciting, I know, and sometimes I consider that Vonnegut queried over a hundred agents before he got a deal, and Rowling's agent spent years pitching her first book to publishers, so I feel like I benefited from a privilege that almost makes me undeserving of a break. At those times I try to tell myself that I earned it because I was a good writer, not because the guy solely was doing me a favor, and that sometimes helps.

What's the best advice you have for writers looking to get published?

Keep true. If this is what you really want, that makes you feel like you matter and what you do matters, keep true to the path your on. Don't give up because the world can be discouraging, and don't stop because you've hit a wall with rejections. We often look at the victories and successes of our heroes because they made it to the top of the mountain, but so often lost in translation is the story of their struggling climb upward. Once they were just like us, and we have to believe we to can get there too, maybe not to the same effect or level of success, but we can get there. The pride that must be yours to look upon your finished work must be something to look forward to- to stoke those fires of motivation. Keep climbing.

What's a common misconception about publishing that needs to be addressed?

I'm still very new to this, so I'm not really sure I can give any insight about that. One thing I was surprised of was how much more complicated it was than I thought. There's a lot of PR and marketing and meet and greets, as well as all the little details to work out. It's not just here's the book, six months later, it's published. Incredibly, for me anyway, it's a bit more complicated than that.

Where can people find your books? What about your blog or social media accounts?

As of right now, my debut novel has not been released because of the aforementioned complications, but when there's news to be announced and all the fun stuff, you can find me on Twitter, which, for now, is the best place to get in touch with/follow for updates.

Want to be featured in a Path to Publishing post? Leave a comment, email me, or reach out via social media. I'm always accepting new authors to interview!

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Read @brianawrites Path to Publishing interview with new adult fiction author @jwcirilo. (Click to tweet)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

BLOOD AND WATER: The Bonds of Friendship

Samson jumped up on the table while Jay was reading. Jay stroked his fur without looking up from the paper. He was trying to concentrate. No matter how silly some of the items on the list seemed, they were all important to him. He thought if he could say them with a straight face, Melanie wouldn't tease him too badly about them.

"Learn to drive," he said, "swim in the Thames, spend the night at the British Museum, kiss someone in Paris—”

Melanie snorted. Jay ignored her and kept reading.

Big Ben and Parliament and the Thames in London


"Stay up all night talking with someone I love, get in a fight and win, get drunk, have s—” He stopped abruptly. Melanie didn't need to hear that one. Maybe he could skip it without her noticing.
"Eat an expensive French meal—”

"Wait," Melanie said. "I think you skipped one."

"No, I didn't."

"Yes, you did. You started to say one thing and went straight into another." She leaned forward on her elbows. "You can't do that. It's cheating."

"Says who?" he asked.

"Says me. Go back to where you were."

Jay folded the note back up into a neat square. "Never mind. This was stupid, anyway."
Melanie tried to snatch the note out of his hand, but he jerked it away from her. When she got out of her chair, he leapt out of his seat and clutched the paper to his chest. There was no way she was reading it. He'd die before that happened.

"Jay," she whined, "just let me see it."

"No," he said. "It's over."

Samson jumped down from the table and rubbed against Jay's shins. He took a step backward, away from Melanie. Samson darted past him, probably fearing that his tail was going to get stepped on. Melanie took a step forward.

"Jaybird," she said.

"I told you not to laugh and you laughed anyway," he said.

"No, I didn't."

"Yes, you did. You laughed when I said that thing about Paris."

"Okay, okay," she said. "I'm sorry. Can you please keep on reading the list?"

Jay thought for a minute. The item he hadn't read was embarrassing. It revealed something that no one knew about him, and he wasn't sure he wanted anyone to know about it yet. He wondered what Melanie would think of him when she found out. He was afraid to read it to her because he didn't think she'd like him anymore. She might think he was a loser. Then again, if he was going to be dead in two weeks, maybe it would be better if somebody knew.

"Okay," he said, "just please, don't laugh. I mean it this time."

"Fair enough," she replied.

Want to read more? Click on over to Wattpad for the rest of the chapter, and make sure you follow me for updates! Also, feel free leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments below. :)

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.@brianawrites shares her latest installment of BLOOD AND WATER, in which the bonds of friendship are tested. (Click to tweet)
"Then again, if he was going to be dead in two weeks, maybe it would be better if somebody knew." @brianawrites (Click to tweet)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why You Should Post Your Novel on Wattpad

This might be news to some of you who don't follow me on social media, but I just started posting my novel to Wattpad. It's called BLOOD AND WATER, and it's about a 17 year-old named Jay Harris who is living in the midst of a deadly pandemic. It's the first time I've posted a work-in-progress to Wattpad. When I started, I wasn't sure what to expect, but now, I adore it.

Open Laptop with Headphones and a Notebook






















Let me tell you why you should post your novel to Wattpad: whether it's finished or not, it's a great way to get free feedback on your writing. Wattpad is an active community filled with tons of people who love engaging with writers. If you're worried about receiving criticism, you can relax - the majority of comments made on the site are overwhelmingly positive. Speaking from personal experience, it's tough to run into someone who's outright rude or disrespectful.

Another great thing about posting your novel on Wattpad is that it motivates you to keep writing. When readers are asking for your next update, you feel compelled to write it. If I fall behind schedule with updates, I feel like I'm letting my readers down. That feeling motivates me to keep going and to post as soon as possible. Also, there's something addictive about getting feedback for each chapter. The potential for engagement keeps me posting chapters, too.

"But Briana," you say, "I can't post my first draft on the Internet!" Well, why not? If it's because the prose isn't perfect, don't worry about it. Like I said before, the Wattpad community is incredibly positive. Moreover, putting up your first draft gives readers a peek into the writing process. A lot of people believe the prose is polished right when it flows out. When you post your rough draft, you're showing everyone how much work it takes to turn the coal into a diamond. You're letting them in on a secret. They'll love you more for it.

"Okay, but what if somebody steals what I've written?" I understand this concern because it's one I also struggled with when I started posting; however, the reality is that stealing is highly unlikely. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's hardly ever done. The same philosophy that applies to publishing applies to Wattpad, too - most people would rather come up with their own ideas than steal someone else's and risk confrontation.

As you can see, I've learned a lot from posting on Wattpad. Sometimes I doubt my decision, but on the whole, I'm happy with it. If you're considering posting your novel to Wattpad, go ahead and take the plunge. I don't think you'll regret it.

Feel free to follow me on Wattpad - I almost always follow back! :)

What do you think about Wattpad? What's keeping you from posting your novel online? Leave your thoughts and answers in the comments below.

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Have you thought about posting your novel on @Wattpad? @brianawrites has a few reasons you should. (Click to tweet)
The @Wattpad community is amazing. Read why @brianawrites thinks you should get involved. (Click to tweet)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Path to Publishing: Alexander Nader

Path to Publishing is a new blog series in which I interview published authors. It's a great way for them to get free exposure as well as help other writers who are trying to get published. This week, I'm featuring urban fantasy writer Alexander Nader.























What's your name? What do you write?

Alexander Nader. I write mostly urban fantasy, but for some reason I hate the term 'urban fantasy'. I like to think I write noir fantasy. Most of my stories are humorous, but I take my joking very seriously.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

I've always written stories in one way or another, but I decided to pursue writing novels seriously in early 2012.

What books have most shaped your writing and why?

John Dies at the End was the biggest reason I started writing. After high school I didn't read books. I hated everything I was forced to read in school and I was convinced that all books were 'literature' and not for me. A friend recommended John Dies and it changed my life. It was the first time I realized people are writing books that I want to read. Since then, I've buried myself into a lot of noir. Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy and Dashiell Hammett and the like.

What's one book you can reread without getting tired of it?

I've honestly never reread a book. There are too many wonderful books I haven't read. If I had to choose, though, it would either be HORNS by Joe Hill or The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. Hill's grasp of human emotion is captivating and Chandler's super dry approach to wit keeps my entertained.

How do you feel about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?

I've tried both and anyone who says one is clearly better is mistaken. The freedom of self-pub is awesome, but at the same time, the support and encouragement from a publisher can be most helpful. The networking aspect of working with a traditional publisher was great for getting me pointed in the right direction.

What's your writing routine like? What about your process?

My routine is random and crazy. I work a lot so I have to squeeze in words whenever I can. The last couple novels I've plotted out vaguely, but my newest addition is all fly by the seat of my pants. It's terrifying and awesome all at the same time.

How did you get published?

I queried a handful of publishers. I think three or four requested the novel, but I picked J. Taylor Publishing. They asked for a slight rewrite to fix a few small details. I made the corrections and sent the novel back to them. A few weeks later, they wrote back and asked how I felt about signing on for a trilogy. My response came in the form of screaming like a little kid and flailing my arms a lot.

What's the best advice you have for writers looking to get published?

There's a quote somewhere that goes roughly like this: If you have any young friends that want to be an author, do them a favor and kill them while they're happy.

That's a little harsh, but a fairly accurate quote. Writing, especially writing to get published, is hard and painful and makes you want to yell a lot. My best advice is to find friends and don't quit.

What's a common misconception about publishing that needs to be addressed?

That it leads to any form of monetary gain whatsoever. Kids, don't write for money. There's none to be made. That doesn't mean you can't have a lot of fun along the way, though.

Where can people find your books? What about your blog or social media accounts?

I'm everywhere...sort of. I tweet, a lot. I have a Facebook, but I'm not a big Facebooker. You can find links to all of my books on my website or you can go here to get started on my Beasts of Burdin trilogy.

Want to be featured in a Path to Publishing post? Leave a comment, email me, or reach out via social media. I'm always accepting new authors to interview!

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Read @brianawrites Path to Publishing interview with urban fantasy writer @AlexNaderWrites. (Click to tweet)

Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Come Up With Blog Post Ideas

One of the biggest struggles of blogging involves coming up with blog post ideas. Because I blog three times a week (minimum), I often finding myself plunging the depths of the idea well. I know how hard it can be to come up with topics. In order to make the blogging process easier for you, I'm sharing some of my tips on how to come up with blog post ideas.

Scuba Diver in the Middle of the Ocean





















I've tried these techniques over and over again and have gotten good results. Of course, what works for me might not work for you. Don't feel like these are the only methods for brainstorming blog topics. In blogging as in life, you should do what works for you. Here are a few techniques I use for generating blog topics.
  • Personal experience. This is my most reliable source of blog topic inspiration. I've written about my own processes and routines as well as topics I've researched out of curiosity. I've noticed these posts also tend to be the most popular around here.
  • Questions. Sometimes on social media, usually on Twitter, people come to me with questions. If I have a fairly detailed answer, I'll discuss it in a blog post. If no one comes to me with questions, I'll ask everyone what I should write about. With that being said, if you have any questions you'd like me to answer, just let me know in the comments or on Twitter! :)
  • Trends in literature and popular culture. My recent vlog about FIFTY SHADES OF GREY proves that I like to write about buzzworthy topics and current events. If there's something exciting going on with the media or literature, I might want to write a post about it.
This is a short post, but you get the idea. When it comes to generating blog topics, try not to overthink it. The next time you're looking for something to write about, give some of the techniques in this post a try!

How do you come up with blog post ideas? Leave your thoughts and answers in the comments below.

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Struggling to come up with blog topics? @brianawrites wants to help. (Click to tweet)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Favorite Screen Characters Blog Hop

Surprise Saturday post! I was tagged by one of my favorite people in the world, Rae Oestrich, to participate in this blog hop.

Instructions: For this quick, fun blog hop, you just name your 10 favorite characters from movies or TV, then tag 10 friends to do the same!

Oooh, this is going to be difficult. How do I narrow it down? 

  • The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant - Doctor Who)


  • Rose Tyler (Billie Piper - Doctor Who)


  • Rupert Giles (Anthony Head - Buffy the Vampire Slayer)


  • Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott - BBC Sherlock)


  • Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany - Orphan Black)


  • The Master (John Simm - Doctor Who)


  • Amy Elliot Dunne (Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl)



  •  Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle - NBC Hannibal)



  • Gary King (Simon Pegg - The World's End)



  • Annalise Keating (Viola Davis - How to Get Away with Murder)



Whew, that was a tough one! I'm too lazy to tag people. If you want to participate, just write a post and send me the link in the comments or on Twitter! :)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Guest Post: Setting Aside Writing Time

Time is a startlingly precious commodity, especially in a world that constantly tells us to keep going faster, faster, faster, to keep doing more, more, more. We all know how it goes: you skip one day of writing, one measly little day – perhaps you get home late from school, or perhaps you’re inundated with homework, or perhaps you’re just exhausted and you don’t feel like doing it tonight.

But it’s not like missing one day could hurt, right? You’ll get back into your carefully set routine tomorrow.

The thing is, tomorrow too often turns into the next day, which turns into next week, which only turns into someday. And someday might as well be a synonym for never.

Time is an awfully difficult thing to manage.

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: carving out a routine in your daily schedule is possibly the most important thing you can do for your writing. Here’s the catch, though: you can’t skip a day. Ever. It does not matter what happens. As a writer, it’s so important to guard your time ferociously, disregarding all distractions, through rain or shine or homework up to your ears.

As with all steadfast rules, though, there are some ways to make life easier for yourself. One of my absolute favourite techniques is to set a time for my writing. Every single day, 10 PM sharp, I’m at my desk, laptop open, notebook by my side, tea in hand. I write until 11 or until the ideas run out, whichever comes first – and then I’m done, finished, quota filled. It doesn’t matter how much I have to do: every day, no matter what, I’m at my desk at 10 PM.

Another great motivator is using a monthly calendar. Mine is sitting on my desk, and every single day once I’ve finished writing, there’s a big red cross that goes through that day. Soon enough I have a week of red crosses, and then two weeks, and then three weeks. Seeing those red crosses glaring up at me is a pretty good incentive to get my butt off the couch and to the desk, because honestly, do I really want to break the chain after so long? (Hint: no, I don’t. And you won’t either, no matter how good that episode of Friends is).

It gets easier. I promise. After a few months, your writing routine feels like an integral part of life. Missing even a day pretty much equates to sacrilege. If you have a daily word count, it becomes more and more natural to crank it out. If you’re like me and you just let the words ebb and flow, you start to notice a lot more flowing and a lot less ebbing.

Setting a hard-and-fast writing schedule is one of the best things you can do to not only increase your productivity levels, but also make sure tomorrow doesn’t fade out to someday. It’s not enough to just write when you have the time, because I can guarantee you that the time isn’t going to come. You’re the only one who can make it happen.

Topaz Winters is a teen author and singer/songwriter, currently in the process of publishing her first book, Frozen Hearts, and recording her as-yet untitled debut album. In her spare time she rides dragons, collects stardust, and eats copious amounts of cheesecake. You can find her wandering cyberspace at her blog or on Twitter.

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In this guest post on @brianawrites' blog, @topazwinters thinks you should set aside writing time. (Click to tweet)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Path to Publishing: Z.R.Southcombe

Path to Publishing is a new blog series in which I interview published authors. It's a great way for them to get free exposure as well as help other writers who are trying to get published. This week, I'm featuring children's fantasy writer Z.R. Southcombe.

What's your name? What do you write?

Z.R. Southcombe. I write children's fantasy.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

At the start of 2013.

What books have most shaped your writing and why?

Roald Dahl - what I grew up on and made me want to be a children's author. Also, he has a way of writing for children without being condescending, which I really respect.

Lemony Snickett - his dry humour and his use of 'big words', as well as darker themes, remind me that children's books don't have to be wrapped in cotton wool.

CS Lewis & Hilda Lewis (no relation that I know of!) - the depth language and old-school fantasy. Anything is possible :-)

What's one book you can reread without getting tired of it?

Only one?? I'm going to cheat and go for a series - The Chronicles of Narnia (which I happen to be re-reading right now!)

How do you feel about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?

It's fun. That is all.

What's your writing routine like? What about your process?

All over the place! I work my day job from 3pm ish in the afternoon. Currently my routine is either morning pages or a walk, then dayjob stuff for a half hour or so, and then I have a good 4 hours for writing.

I have decided to keep this open, depending on what's going on. Right now, I'm spending a good chunk of that time on pre-launch activities for my first chapter book release. When I'm in the middle of a draft, I usually spend an hour or two drafting, and the rest editing or re-plotting.

How did you get published?

Self-published. 

What's the best advice you have for writers looking to get published?

Surround yourself with awesome people.

What's a common misconception about publishing that needs to be addressed?

That getting published is the goal - it's the marketing afterwards that really makes a difference.

Where can people find your books? What about your blog or social media accounts?

My website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Want to be featured in a Path to Publishing post? Leave a comment, email me, or reach out via social media. I'm always accepting new authors to interview!

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Read @brianawrites Path to Publishing interview with author @zrsouthcombe. (Click to tweet)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vlog: FIFTY SHADES OF GREY: Movie vs. Book Review

No matter how you feel about FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, I'll bet you'd like to know what I thought about the book and the movie. Enjoy the review!


RELATED LINK:

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Have you read or seen FIFTY SHADES OF GREY? Writer @brianawrites shares her take on it. (Click to tweet)

Monday, February 16, 2015

How to Make Friends on Twitter

Photo Credit: Rosaura Ochoa on Flickr
It's no secret that Twitter is my favorite social media platform. I spend more time there than I do anywhere else online. I've met so many cool people and made so many friends on Twitter. I don't know what I'd do without it.

Twitter is fantastic for writers. It allows you to meet all kinds of readers and writers and editors and agents. It's a great source of inspiration, encouragement, and advice. I've learned so much from Twitter. If you don't have an account, you should sign up right away.

For those of you who have a Twitter account but haven't figured out how to network just yet, don't despair. It's easier to make friends on Twitter than you think. Keep reading for some tips for joining the online cocktail party.
  • Don't be afraid to make the first move. For a long time, I didn't interact with anyone on Twitter because I was afraid of annoying them. Most of the time, if you reply to someone's tweets, they'll be flattered, not annoyed. You should only reply if you plan to say something relevant or add something to the conversation, though. Don't try to use their tweets to draw attention to yourself.
  • Participate in chats. Author Ava Jae wrote an excellent post about why writers should participate in Twitter chats. They're an excellent way to meet people who share similar interests.
  • Retweet posts you think are worth sharing. It's a great way to support other members of the writing community. Who knows? They might retweet you, too!
  • Follow people. This tip might seem like a no-brainer, but you can't engage and interact with people if you're not following anyone! Search for writers, editors, agents, and accounts that fit your interests. If you connect with them, they might follow you back, too. (You should follow me!)
  • Focus on giving more than receiving. If you want to make friends on Twitter, don't make it all about you. Be kind, support others, and help people out however you can. A little goes a long way.
Making friends on Twitter is easier than you think. You shouldn't be afraid to approach other users, strike up a conversation, and make connections. Sign up for Twitter if you haven't already and get to making friends! What are you waiting for?

What tips do you have for making friends on Twitter? Leave your answers and thoughts in the comments below.

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Need some friends to help you get by? Writer @brianawrites has some tips for connecting on Twitter. (Click to tweet)

Friday, February 13, 2015

How to Stay Disciplined While Editing

Photo Credit: Grotuk on Flickr
Writing takes discipline. This fact should come as no surprise. At the same time, there are many writers who don't understand the amount of discipline you need to edit your work.

As someone who has struggled through the editing process and come out on the other side, I can tell you that it's true: editing is hard work. No matter how good you think your first draft is, it still needs a lot of work, believe me. That's where editing comes in.

I've almost always been able to put words down each day. For me, writing the first draft is the easiest part. I just let myself go. Whatever happens, I'll reign myself in come second draft time. Of course, this method only works if I make it to the second draft. Once the first draft is finished, it's tough to come crawling back to the keyboard to face what you've done. Speaking from personal experience, you need to cultivate self-discipline in the revision process.

From a practical standpoint, editing a novel isn't much different than writing one. It may seem less organic than letting the words flow directly, but it is no less magical. Still, it's easy to get discouraged while editing. Because you're not pouring your heart and soul into the story, you might not feel like working as hard.

My trick for staying disciplined while editing is three-fold: read through your manuscript, make a list of what needed changing, and tackle the project with the same daily goals you used for drafting. After you finish your first draft, sit down somewhere quiet to read through it, making a list of parts that need fixing as you go along. Then, once you're ready to dive into editing, go in with your usual time limits or word counts. For example, if my goal while drafting had been to write 500 words per day, I would work on editing a 500 word passage.

When it comes to editing, my best advice is to break the process down into small steps. Don't try to revise the whole project at once. If you try to edit the entire story in one pass, you'll feel overwhelmed and demotivated. Break the revision process into manageable chunks, stick to your goals, and do a little each day. That's the only way I know to stay disciplined while editing.

What is your revision process like? How do you stay disciplined while editing something?

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How can you stay disciplined while editing? Writer @brianawrites has some advice. (Click to tweet

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Path to Publishing: J.C. Hart

Photo Credit: Mars P. on Flickr
 Path to Publishing is a new blog series in which I interview published authors. It's a great way for them to get free exposure as well as help other writers who are trying to get published. This week, I'm featuring speculative fiction writer J.C. Hart.

What's your name? What do you write?

J.C. Hart (Cassie Hart). I write mostly speculative fiction - science fiction, a range of fantasy, and things that are sometimes on the horror side.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

From the time I could tell stories! I've always spun tales and have been writing since I learned how. The desire got knocked a few times, with people telling me it wasn't a 'real' career option, or to pick something more realistic/financially secure etc, but I'm pleased to be back on course.

What books have most shaped your writing and why?

Hm. I am never sure how to answer this one! I grew up reading fantasy and horror mostly, but that's not always what I write. And the books I adore are not ones I think I can emulate, such as The Night Circus, and Scorpio Races, or Robin Hobbs Farseer Trilogy. It's hard to say. I guess Stephen King's books, in a lot of ways, there is a level of creepiness that seems to insert itself into my stories.

What's one book you can reread without getting tired of it?

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater.

How do you feel about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?

I think that they are both viable options, and it's wonderful that these days, you can pick the best path for not just you as a writer, but for each of your projects - different things suit different forms of publishing, and you can literally head down either path, or pick from both if that's what works for you. At present I am self publishing because I like being in control of my career, but also because the traditional publishing scene is changing a lot, and I don't want to get in the middle of companies closing/being sold/acquired and the sense of uncertainty that comes with that.

What's your writing routine like? What about your process?

I home school my three daughters, so my routine can look fairly sporadic at times. I write when there is a lull in activity, or when they are having their play time. I do my writing by stages, so I don't revise at all until I've finished the first draft and so on, and this way I can work on several things at a time, though often just one project per day (not always!). I try to make sure I get some new words down bright and early, and then do as much editing/revising/etc as I can fit into the rest of the day.

How did you get published?

I was first published in a short story anthology back in 2011, and since then have had several more sales in other anthologies (actually, all award winning anthos!). It wasn't until last year that I decided to make the leap into self publishing, kicking things off with a novella. I have several more releases lined up for the coming year, and many more for the future.

What's the best advice you have for writers looking to get published?

Find your tribe!! The support and friendship of other writers is invaluable, and I wouldn't be where I am without them. It's not just the feedback and critique that is awesome, but simple knowing that they believe in you, and you believe in them. Knowing that someone has your back. Non-writers just don't get this business the way other writers do, so find the people you click with and don't let them go lol. 

What's a common misconception about publishing that needs to be addressed?

I really don't know how to answer this one! lol I'm not sure what the misconceptions are these days. There is SO much information out there that you can find just about anything, if you know what to look for anyway.

I guess, one that I hear a lot is that you have to be everywhere on social media. I don't believe this is true, and in fact I think it can be counter-productive because if you spend all that time on social media, when are you writing? That's the most important part of publishing. Writing. Making the stories come alive on the page. Without that, you don't have anything to publish and all that time on social media is a waste. Even big publishers don't require you to be on all social media, or to have a massive following, though with some it does help. Focus first on creating amazing products, then do the other stuff.

Where can people find your books? What about your blog or social media accounts?

You can find me at my website or on Twitter and occasionally over on Facebook.

Want to be featured in a Path to Publishing post? Leave a comment, email me, or reach out via social media. I'm always accepting new authors to interview!

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Read @brianawrites #PathtoPublishing interview with author @JCHart. (Click to tweet)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thoughts on GO SET A WATCHMAN



Photo Credit: Bruna Ferrara on Flickr
Last week, it was announced that Harper Lee, author of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, will be publishing another book. This is huge news. Lee, now 88, has not published anything since MOCKINGBIRD in 1960. After winning a Pulitzer Prize for her debut novel, Lee pulled a Boo Radley and went into seclusion.

Before MOCKINGBIRD, though, there was GO SET A WATCHMAN. This book takes place after the events of MOCKINGBIRD, even though it was written earlier. In this sequel, Scout is all grown up and heading home to visit her father, Atticus. The novel is set to be released this summer. Five months before the book hits shelves, it’s already at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list.

A few people wanted to know how I felt about this news. At first, I was elated. Having read MOCKINGBIRD and loved it, I wanted to read more. I wanted more Scout and Atticus and even Boo. I couldn’t wait to get the sequel.

But then came fears that Lee had been pressured into publishing. Lee’s attorney, her sister Alice, recently passed away. Alice was fiercely protective of her sister’s privacy—would she have allowed WATCHMAN to be published if she were alive? A close friend of Lee’s expressed concerns that Lee was being exploited. After all, she is reportedly deaf and mostly blind.

Another friend of Lee's said she was fine the day before the release was announced. More importantly, Lee herself says she's excited about her new novel. In a statement released on February 5, she said, "I'm alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to WATCHMAN."

If Lee herself is happy, I think I'll be happy, too. If it comes out that she really didn't want WATCHMAN published, then maybe I'll rethink things. Right now, like many of you, I have mixed emotions.

How do you feel about GO SET A WATCHMAN?

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Writer @brianawrites has mixed feelings about Harper Lee's MOCKINGBIRD sequel. (Click to tweet)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Do Writers Need Formal Training?

Photo Credit: Vancouver Film School on Flickr
I've had many people ask me whether they should major in creative writing or not. As someone who graduated from college with a BS in English, concentrated in creative writing, this topic is one near and dear to my heart. Many people think that, in order to be a writer, you need some kind of formal training. Whether you major in writing or take a class or course on the subject, the idea is that you're more qualified to write after receiving some instruction.

If you want to major in creative writing, go ahead. It doesn't matter as much as you might think. If you want to be a writer, read a lot and write a lot. That's all you need to do.

I'm not saying writing classes don't help--my workshops in college helped me produce regularly, learn to take criticism, and so much more--but they're not essential. You can get on well as a writer without them. If you're reading and writing every day, you're going to improve and grow as a writer. That's all there is to it.

There are so many writers out there without formal training: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Grisham, Harper Lee, Michael Crichton, and J.K. Rowling, to name a few. Clearly, you don't need an English major or creative writing classes to succeed as a writer. All you need is creativity, dedication, and daily reading and writing. The rest is just background noise.

The best advice I can give you? Put your butt in the chair and keep in there. Get words down every day. It doesn't matter how many as long as you keep moving forward. You don't need training to be a writer. You need courage, imagination, self-discipline, and luck.

How do you feel about formal training for writers? What do you think it takes to be a writer?

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"You don't need training to be a writer," says blogger @brianawrites. What do you think? (Click to tweet)
Is a formal education essential to writers? @brianawrites doesn't think so. (Click to tweet)
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