Why do you write?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other day, I came across a book titled, “Why We Write.” For the first time in months, the writing part of myself emerged from a long and lengthy slumber. This is the first chapter I laid my eyes on:

“I write because it’s all know how to do. Writing is my anchor and my purpose. My life is informed by writing, whether the work is going well or I’m stuck in a hell of writer’s block,” states author Sue Grafton (page 52). She continues, “Most days when I sit down at my computer, I’m scared half out of my mind… Writer’s block is a subject I’ve given a lot of thought to, since I came up against it so often. I used to try to power through, overwriting the block by sheer force of will. Now look at it differently. I see writer’s block is a message…informing me that I’m off track. The “block” is the byproduct of the faulty choices I’ve made.”

My job is to back up and see if I can pinpoint the fork in the road where I headed in the wrong direction. Sometimes I’ve misunderstood a character or his or her motivation. Sometimes I’ve laid out events in a sequence that muddies the storyline. Usually I don’t have to retrace my steps more than a chapter or two, and the error is easily corrected.”

It was then that I realized just how much I had missed writing. I had done what many writers do. I let life and its many sidetracks take over my main focus and I let writing slip to the back burner.

To break the stalemate I’ve been on, I’m doing what any good writer does: writes. That’s the simplle goal of my post today. However, I’d also like to encourage any other writers out there who have been feeling their passion slip to remind themselves of why they write.

Maran, M. (ed). (2013). Why we write. New York: Penguin Books.

Thinking About Creativity in a New Way

I think one of the biggest problems surrounding writing is fear. Fear that your writing is crap. Fear that others will agree that your writing is crap. Fear that you can’t be a successful writer. Fear that other people will read your stories. Fear that no one will ever read your stories. Fear that you have no idea what you’re doing. Fear that there are writers out there better than you.

This fear is what keeps most people from jumping into the writing world.

While I’ve been wondering this, a family member recently pointed me to this amazing video of New York Best Selling Author Elizabeth Gilbert of the book, Eat, Pray, Love.

It was within couple minutes of watching that I quickly realized this is a video every writer should see.

In it, Elizabeth discusses the burden we place on those of us who do something creatively and the fear that follows such professions. She also shares what she’s learned from researching creativity through the ages.

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Literary Agent Interview: Melissa Flashman

My second interview for the Guide to Literary Agents blog over at Writer’s Digest is up!

I interviewed the wonderful literary agent, Melissa Flashman of Trident Media Group, LLC.

If you’re in the market of writing nonfiction and YA and you’re wondering:

What makes a great nonfiction query?

What’s are some of the biggest query pet peeves?

Then, this is one interview you should check out!


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Your Healthy Living Update

Family

There has been a lot of media attention lately on Attachment Parenting. But do you know what that is? If not, check out The Principles of Attachment Parenting.

Tired of your teenager being surly? Here are a few tips on How to Convince Your Teen to Smile!

Mind & Body

What do you have on your Bucket List? Is there a chance you’re missing something vitally important? Something that’s not a destination but rather a happier way to live your life? Tips for Creating Your Bucket List.

Can Rejection Lead to Greater Creativity? Do challenges propel you to succeed? An in-depth look at a study conducted at Harvard University on Creativity.

Sex & Relationships

Saying ‘I Love You’ First can be awkward. Here are a few tips to get your through it!

You’re single and happy and you can’t seem to convince anyone of it. Are You Affected by Singlism?

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Dolly: Winner of the Ebook Double Dipping

Congratulations Dollyj007!

You’ve won a pdf copy of Double Dipping by Marilyn Brant! I’ve sent an email to you. Please send back an email of acknowledgment to receive your prize! If for some reason you did not receive the email, simply comment below and I will resend it. Thank you so much for your comment and for your support of this website! A HUGE thanks to everyone who commented!

Ebook Giveaway + Why Do Traditional Authors Self-Publish?

There’s something incredibly surprising going on. For starters, according to the recent data collected on the reading habits of Americans, people are reading more books now that Ebooks are available. As a result, Ebooks and self-publishing have come together to create the perfect climate for writers. It’s now very easy for writers to publish books and short stories by themselves. And because more people are reading Ebooks, they’re self-published books are reaching more people than ever before.

But it’s not just aspiring authors who are self-publishing, many authors whom already have an agent and several books published traditionally, are also self-publishing their additional stories and books. So the big question I have is why? Why would a traditional author choose to self-publish?

Award-wining women’s fiction author and avid member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Marilyn Brant is here to answer that question!

Marilyn has three novels under her belt including her debut novel, According to Jane, which won the Romance Writers of American’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award. Every year since she became an author (check out her story into becoming an author here) she’s been churning out fabulous book (Friday Mornings at Nine) after fabulous book (A Summer in Europe)! But what surprised me the most was when I noticed she self-published 2 novels as a series of fun and flirty contemporary romantic comedies: On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping.

These two novels made Marilyn into a #1 Kindle bestseller and she’s here today to give us the scoop on why she chose to self-publish:

 1. As a best-selling published author, why did you choose to self-publish 2 Ebooks?

There are a number of reasons. In part, it was because it’s a long time between my print books (14 months, in my case, between Friday Mornings at Nine and A Summer in Europe), and I wanted to give my readers something fun to read in the interim. My self-pubbed romance books both touched on some of the themes I wrote about in my print/women’s fiction novels, particularly with A Summer in Europe, but in a shorter, lighter way. I hoped if new readers found me digitally first, they’d get to enjoy an inexpensive sample of my writing and, perhaps, they’d be interested in reading more.

Aside from all of that, though, my very first love was romantic comedy. I wrote several purely lighthearted romances prior to getting my first traditional book contract, and a few of those novels were quite close to being published in their own right. In the case of On Any Given Sundae, an editor really liked it, but the line she was considering it for was discontinued just two weeks after I finished writing the book and a new line was never created to replace it. So, for six years, I waited in hopes that a print publisher would appear, looking for books of that tone and length, but one never did.

I try to bring a fair amount of both romance and humor into my longer books but—as a reader myself—sometimes I’m just in the mood for a story that’s a short, entertaining read. Like wanting to watch a half-hour sitcom one night rather than a two-hour feature film. If both the sitcom and the film were written and directed by the same person, there would certainly be similarities in writing style and favored camera angles. But the sitcom has to be less complicated and faster paced than the film, and it has to be structured in a way that delivers the humor and the closure the viewers have come to expect from a half-hour comedy. The movie, of course, has different rules and more flexibility, needs to be longer and have multiple layers or subplots. For me, writing romantic comedies vs. women’s fiction is a lot like that. Different lengths, different expectations, but it’s all still in my voice.

2. How did you do it? What did you do for editing? And how to you get such fabulous covers?!

I’m thrilled you like the covers! Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs was the one who helped create both of mine. Kim and I have known each other for several years and, after I saw the lovely work she did for several other authors, I knew I’d want her to design covers for me when I was ready to self-publish my romantic comedies. We emailed back and forth about ideas until we had the images that I thought best represented each story, and she worked quickly and efficiently in bringing them to life. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the result.

As for the other details involved in formatting and uploading the manuscript, I did all that work myself. I followed Mark Coker’s excellent guide for Smashwords and made sure to pay attention to every step. Initially, it was time consuming because I hadn’t had any background in formatting ebooks before this, but the directions were straightforward and, I think, anyone interested would be able to learn the process as painlessly as I did.

3. What did you like about self-publishing?

On the macro level, the challenges a writer faces between publishing traditionally and publishing on one’s own are exactly the same: Getting noticed by readers and staying noticed by them. On the micro level, however, there are some differences. With a self-published project, you have to learn how to handle wearing all the hats. You’re the one in charge of editing, proof reading, back cover copy, front cover design, marketing, advertising, pricing and distribution. You can hire people to help with all of these, but you’re still the one that needs to research a great cover artist, for instance, and you still have to be prepared to give a lot of input to your designer so he/she can craft just the right image for your story. The autonomy, however, is wonderful. With traditional titles, there’s a publishing staff in place to help you do all of those things, but having less responsibility also means having less control. You’re on the publishing house’s timetable and you can’t really move things along faster—or slow them down overly much—without it creating a problem.

On the financial side, there are no cash advances when you self-publish a book—it’s a pure leap of faith. One benefit to a traditional contract is that you’ll get some (typically small) amount of money upfront. But, with self-publishing, you do get a larger share of the royalties on what you sell and you can check your sales record at any time, day or night. (Still not sure if I should call this a “good” thing or not, LOL. The ease with which an author can become obsessed with his/her indie sales numbers is frightening!) With a traditional house, you usually don’t get a good picture of your opening month’s sales for six months to a year. I do think gaining the attention of readers and reviewers remains the biggest challenge for self-pubbed novels, but that’s a struggle with print titles as well. The thing I keep telling everyone is that BOTH methods are a lot of work. There aren’t any shortcuts to publishing a well-written novel. Period.

4. Do you have any tips?

The advice I’d give to ALL writers, whether planning to release digitally or submit to print publishers or do both, is actually the same:

1. Write what you love.

2. Polish it.

3. Figure out how to market it as effectively as you can.

4. Be as considerate and supportive of other writers as you’d like them to be toward you—online and off.

5. Make sure your inner circle is populated with people you trust and who genuinely care about you because this industry is full of a lot of ups and downs, and you need to know there will be friends and family who’ll be there, both to lean on when you need it and to celebrate with you.

5. Wow! Those are probably the best tips I’ve heard! So tell me all about On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping:

I’d be happy to do that! On Any Given Sundae is a light romantic comedy about a shy dessert cookbook writer and the talkative ex-football star she once had a crush on as a teen. The unlikely pair find themselves left in charge of a small-town ice cream parlor for the summer, but can two people—who may have grown up practically next door to each other but who have next to nothing in common—create the perfect recipe for love? Maybe with a little help from their friends and a few sweet toppings…

As for Double Dipping, it’s a new contemporary romance that was inspired by my years as an elementary school teacher. Opposites collide when a dedicated second-grade teacher fights the school’s new financial director in order to reinstate a much-beloved autumn festival. But secrets, ambition, attraction and meddling family members complicate matters in this small Midwestern town. The book is part light mystery, part romantic comedy and entirely packed with delectable sweets—including a step-by-step recipe for making homemade chocolate-cherry ice cream!

6. What’s your favorite all-time dessert?

I have MANY favorites (I love sweets, too much, actually…), but I particularly adore gelato! There is nothing like the flavorful creaminess of Italian ice cream. YUM!

Thanks, again, for asking me to visit, Brittany! It was a pleasure to be here. ~Marilyn

You’re very welcome Marilyn! Thanks for stopping by The Write Stuff!

*To Enter for a chance to Win a Digital (pdf) Copy of Double Dipping:

Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!

Rules for this contest:

*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (May 27th)Those who comment will be entered to win. When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.

For additional entries and chances to win:

*Subscribe to this blog!

*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff

*Follow me on Twitter

*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).

Every name is assigned a random number. The more you enter, the more numbers are assigned to your name. The range of numbers is put into a Random Number Calculator and the winning number is chosen! I’ll announce the winner on May 28th! Once contacted, the winner will have three days to respond to me as an acknowledgment of being a winner. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!

*What’s your favorite dessert?

For Example: Mine’s cheesecake! Chocolate-covered ANYTHING ties in at second place though. P.S. The picture to the right is a slice of Maple Sugar Cream pie (click here for the recipe)! 

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Your Healthy Living Update

Family

Are your children starting to flee from the nest you’ve built, making you an empty-nester? If so, check out these Three Helpful Tips for Empty Nesters!

Were you spanked as a child? Do you plan to spank your children? The debate on spanking has raged on for years but what does the latest research have to say on the topic? What are the Effects of Spanking?

Mind & Body

Are you a multitasker? Does your job or home life require you to juggle several things at once? Then check out this article on how you can be more efficient and less stressed: Multitaskers: How to Increase Your Focus at Work.

Have your ever noticed that the Grass is ALWAYS Greener when you’re trying to achieve your dreams? According to neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson, that may be because your going after your dreams with attachment instead of aspiration. Learn more about the difference here: How to Achieve Your Dreams.

Sex & Relationships

You’re single and you don’t know why can’t find someone to date. Check out this article, Is Dating in the Modern World More Difficult?, to learn 6 reasons behind why first dates are failing in record numbers.

Everyone knows about The Sex Talk that parents give to their children about sex…and its consequences. But have you and your partner had your own sex talk? According to certified sex therapist Laurie Watson, this is one conversation every couple should have: Talking with Your Partner About Sex.
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The 10 Best Makeup Tutorials on YouTube + Redecorating Tips and 2012 Trends

Are you tired of your make-up routine? Are you dying to learn the hottest makeup trends for spring and summer?

Then no look no further, I conducted extensive research to provide you with The 10 Best Makeup Tutorials On YouTube! So you can learn more about makeup in a matter of minutes.

Ok…so…I also have a confession to make: my husband and I recently moved to a new home and I was at a loss on how to redecorate. That’s why I interviewed Home Decor Guru, Phil Tracey, for Betty Confidential to find out the best redecorating tips and the 411 on the hottest decorating trends for 2012!

Check it out: Decorate Your Home in Spring’s Fun Colors and Trends.

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Writer’s Digest: Guide to Literary Agents Blog

Let today go down as the coolest day in history…

Why is today the coolest day you ask? It’s because my first interview for the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, over at Writer’s Digest is up!

I interviewed the fabulous agent, Elizabeth Evans from the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

If you’re in the market of writing nonfiction and you’re wondering:

What’s a common mistake that occurs when someone sends in a nonfiction book proposal?

What’s the biggest chapter one non-fiction no-no?

What’s the best way I can build my platform?

Then, this is one interview you can’t afford to miss! 

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Your Healthy Living Update

I wanted to kick-start this Monday with a few of my healthy living articles. And let’s be honest, who couldn’t use more healthy lifestyle tips?! So grab your latte energy drink green tea and get ready to learn something new:

Family

Did you hear about the 6-year-old boy that was a placed into police custody after he threw a tantrum at an elementary school in Indiana? This article discusses the incident and offers 3 tips to help parents Reduce Your Child’s Behavioral Problems in School.

Now that summer is underway, are you having a hard time getting your kids to walk away from their Xbox and step outside to play for a change? It may be because our children are suffering from what is now being called, “Nature-Deficit Disorder: A Generational Nature Gap.”

Mind & Body

With the ever-depressing news coverage these days, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many people are fearful and suffer from anxiety. According to neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson, humans have been bred to be fearful. Check out why that is and how you can change it: How to Overcome Fearfulness.

Did you find yourself identifying with Charlize Theron in her latest movie, Young-Adult? If so, here are three-must-read tips on How to Enjoy Your Life!

Sex & Relationships 

Did you know that there are Five Common Barriers to Listening? I’m guilty of #1….ok and #2

Do you believe that some couples simply fall out of love with each other? According to clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, Dr. Randi Gunther, that doesn’t happen. Learn why: Have you Fallen Out of Love?

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