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Posts tagged with: writer’s life

Thank you, Sabrina

In this year’s Rita Awards ceremony, the audience watched clips of authors thanking fellow authors who had played an important role in their writing careers.

We’re all in this together.

When RWA called for submissions for this feature, I sent in an entry–to thank Sabrina Jeffries for all she’s meant to me. We were selected to participate, but our clip ended on the proverbial cutting room floor. Since I missed my chance to thank her at the RITAs, I’ll express my gratitude here today.

Sabrina and I write in completely different subgenres, so it might seem like we have little in common. But in our private lives, we share a strong bond. We’re both the mothers of autistic adults. Whenever we talk, the conversation inevitably turns to our kids. How are they doing? How are we managing? Autism is a spectrum of disorders, and parents of autistics have a spectrum of experiences. Yet we can always connect over the joys and challenges of being autism moms.

It’s inevitable that Sabrina and I write neuro-diverse characters into our books. My latest release has an autistic main character–and Natalie’s autism is a key part of the story.  It was Sabrina’s willingness to support me that led to my submission to We’re all in this together. 

Here is my entry to RWA:

I met Sabrina Jeffries through my local RWA chapter. She’s gracious to us all, but her generosity became personal for me last summer.

Sabrina and I were on the same flight to Orlando in July 2017 for RWA Nationals. As we shared a ride to the Dolphin Resort, we become engrossed in a conversation about something we have in common besides writing. We’re both autism moms.

Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Day

Sabrina Jeffries and Julia Day at RWA Conference – Orlando

For the entire drive, we caught up on each other’s children. Sabrina’s son—who is severely autistic—is thriving in his group home. My daughter, who has Asperger’s, was about to move to Connecticut for graduate school.

I mentioned to Sabrina that my next YA book would have a main character with Asperger’s. She offered to help, any way she could. We both laughed about that, since I write sweet YA contemporaries and she writes sexy adult historicals.

A month later, though, I contacted her. Would she read the manuscript and give me a cover quote? Her response was immediate. YES! And not only did she give me a lovely quote, she was willing to promote the book.

After Fade to Us released, there were some who questioned my “credentials” for writing it. I had been reluctant to talk openly about having a child on the autism spectrum, believing it’s my daughter’s story to tell. Sabrina was there for me again with these wise words to consider.

SJ: “Being an autism mom is part of your life, too. Can you feel comfortable sharing that your inspiration came from the experiences of your daughter and family? Can you publicly celebrate the success your daughter has had?

It was the perfect advice. With my daughter’s blessing, I’ve become more open on social media about being an autism mom.

Sabrina didn’t forget her offer to promote. She’s been amazing about getting the word out about the book on twitter, Facebook, and goodreads.

Her actions are exactly what RWA embodies for the community of romance authors. Sabrina has given generously to me through her words, encouragement, and support as I released a story so close to my heart. I can’t thank her enough.

 

Do you have an author who has helped your career? If so, join us in the comments and thank him or her.

Do you have a child or family member with differences? However you manage those struggles, please know that the writing community has your back. We are there for you, so find us in whatever way is comfortable for you! 

 

Julia Day  is an author of young adult fiction, including Fade to Us, a sweet YA contemporary with an autistic main character. She also writes YA magical realism as Elizabeth Langston. (Her book I WISH is free through August 9.)

To Be A Writer or Not?

I officially started on this publishing journey twenty years ago last month. I’ve written millions of words before, just not for the public, but at some point (It was a sunny day), I pulled on my big girl panties and walked into a writers group meeting where there were other people who talked to the characters in their heads just like I did. They were the lost family I never knew existed and I was home. Since then, while the family I was born into (well, some of the family) supported my need to create, I worked my a** off to learn as much as I could about the craft of writing and to take advice from those who succeeded in winning the public’s hearts. Just when I reached a point that big houses doors were cracking open, the industry took a one-eighty turn. E-readers were released and like any new toy the techs in my generation and the generation behind me coveted them like chocolate. New businesses were formed every day to handle the need for authors to fill these readers with their stories, ie small epubs. You know the rest of the story. You lived it.

 

The one thing I heard constantly in the early years of my training was, “Don’t quit your day job.” Authors who had large followings, like SEP, Debbie McComber, Linda Howard, Susan Brown, etc. etc. stood on conference stages and warned us this business is fickle. You are up one moment flying high among the stars and then suddenly the floor drops out and down you’ll crash.  Yes, some authors will float down gently and might even hover in the sky like a kite on a gentle breeze  (because they’ve earned the large following) but most writers will not. Let me repeat that. Most writers WILL NOT make a living from this career. Those who do make a career out of writing are doing jobs that they might not love, like tech writing or free lance articles, editing, ghost writing. This in not something new. Writing, like any art, has always been a low paying career.  So why do it?

 

I can tell you that I plan to continue to write, because creating stories I love is what I love to do. I’m going to be smart about where I spend my income (no second house or new car). While I think conferences are important to attend, I’ve got to be very choosy which ones have valve to me. Maybe an on-line class or retreat would feed my muse better. I also need to spend my advertising budget where I get the biggest bang for my buck.  A few things I will not lower my standards on is editing, copy-editing and covers.  If I need to supplement my funds in order to publish my future stories, I will. I’ve taken a part time job, because I love writing. I love myself. And I love my family.  I will not take from family funds, but I will work at a job that brings in a steady income, and I will spend a little of the money earned on my true desire.  Who knows, one day I might write a story that will be on the shelves generations from now. That book might help my grandchildren in their retirement years.

So what are your thoughts on the down-turn of the industry? And how do you plan to handle your writing career?

 

FYI: Did you know Edgar Allen Poe never made a living as a writer? He couldn’t support his family from all his works and died penniless.

 

 

 

Not A Blue Bird In Sight

A blank page sits in front of you. The sharpened point of your pencil taps against the lined paper, or that black cursor blinks at you, mocking your muse to write something readers will find entertaining. What you envision scrawled across that page and every page afterwards may be a full-length novel, a short story or just a blog post. But you’re frozen in time like a deer in the headlights of a semi-truck. Your heart pumps your blood through your veins so fast every nerve sizzles and every muscle twitches with anticipation of what will come to life in your mind and then make its way through your fingertips and on to the page.  And you know, as sure as you know the sun will set tonight that if an idea fails to spark you’ll just….

What? What will you do?

Hit your head harder against the wall?

Die?

Quit?

HA!

 

Writing is in your blood, so relax. We all have days, weeks, and sometimes even months that the page remains blank, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a seed of an idea growing inside of you.

In this age, where everyone wants more yesterday and authors are pressured to produce several books a year, stress has risen to new levels for authors and stress does what? Makes us focus on what is causing us the stress.  So, stop focusing on not having an idea and focus on your well-being. Study craft books, read, take a class, read, critique another writer’s pages, read, have a plotting party, enjoy life and people watch… You get the idea. Feed your muse. Once you’ve done that, the words will flow.

Remember, in life, it’s the journey that counts. Enjoy it!

What are some ways you’ve fed your muse?

 

 

 

An epic case drops from thin air and a ticking clock begins. Can U.S. Marshal Jolene Martinez stop the sinister creator before it’s too late and a death occurs?

A thrilling new standalone mystery from award -winning author Autumn Jordon with a totally shocking conclusion.

  LOVED BY DARKNESS RELEASES TOMORROW MAY 8TH!

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Words of gratitude

Writing the acknowledgments to my books has always been one of my favorite things to do, because it lets me thank all of the people who help me write a story. So I’m taking an opportunity today to tell them again just how very grateful I am for the contributions they’ve made to my writing career.

To the Rubies – It would be hard to list all the ways you’ve had my back. You are wise, kind, generous, and there. Although our sisterhood is virtual, I know I can count on you to stand by me through troubles in writing, relationships, or life. Thank you, Rubies; your support has been amazing.2 guys high-fiving

To readers – We couldn’t do it without you, and not just because you buy our books. We love the fan letters, the comments on our blogs, the lovely reviews that show you “get” the book, the word-of-mouth that brings in new readers, the times you show up for our book signings. Readers rock!

To my editors – You have made me a better writer. Your comments can be wrong frustrating, but you can also–through questions and debate–transform a good manuscript into something great. Thank you, editors.

To my daughters – When you were younger, you put up with a distracted mom, takeout meals, trips to historical sites you weren’t interested in, and conversations where I (the YA author) pumped you (my then-teenaged kids) for plot points and dialog.  Despite the challenges, you have grown into awesome young women. Even though you didn’t sign up to be the child of a writer, you’ve handled it with grace and humor. There are no words.

To my husband – When I recently confessed my fears about writing in a new genre, as always, you encouraged me to press on–never once pointing out the risks, the potential for failure, or the reasons I should stick with what’s safe. Instead, you listened carefully, then said, “If it makes you happy, that’s all the success we need.” Yeah, you’re a keeper. I’m so grateful to have you on my team.

What about you? Who has helped you as a writer? Who would you like to thank? Here’s your chance to leave words of gratitude.

 

Elizabeth Langston writes YA magical realism and YA contemporary (as Julia Day).  To learn more about Elizabeth/Julia, visit her website, follow her on twitter / FB / instagram, or subscribe to her newsletter.

Autism and writing what you know

I give a writing craft workshop called Write What Your Family Knows. The concept is partly about research, partly about a writer’s life. By mining my family’s interests or careers, I have instant access to a (mostly) inexhaustible source of expert information.

Do I want an alpha hero? Little brother is an Army retiree. Do I need a teen character to have a fun hobby? Just say “anime” to my baby girl, and I’m her captive audience for hours. These conversations are two-for-one; I get fabulous research and an opportunity to involve my family in my writing.

But here comes the tricky part. There is an ethical dilemma when using what my friends or family knows. Have they revealed something they might later regret if it appears in a book? Might readers assume that a character’s fictional belief or behavior belongs to one of my loved ones?

Which brings me to…autism.

Write Me a Book as Fast as You Can!

Many of us grew up reciting nursery rhymes from Mother Goose. The other day I was thinking about how chaotic the writing life sometimes is. We live from deadline to deadline or feel like we’re stuck on an assembly line that slowly picks up speed. It’s easy to keep up at first, but pretty soon it gets harder and harder, until one day we burn out. Or lose the love. There’s no happy-ever-after, if you lose the love.

Enter Mother Goose and her rhymes. I was listening to a radio program, and someone mentioned the Pat-a-Cake rhyme. There are different versions of it, but this is the one I recited with my kiddos when they were little:

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Roll it and pat it and mark it with a “B”
And throw it in the oven for baby and me. 

Well, I’m on deadline (imagine that!) and started inserting “write me a book as fast as you can” in place of baking cakes. And it struck home. Hard. That’s how I approach writing. Write that book as fast as you can. And write the next one even faster. So here’s my corny and not-so-funny version of the rhyme:

Plot-a-book, plot-a-book, writer man.
Write me a book as fast as you can;
Craft it and type it and mark it with “The End”
And start it all again…before you hit “send.”

Isn’t that how we feel sometimes? Like we just need to crank that book out in a hurry, because there’s another one in line waiting to be written. And soon, it turns into a scene from Lucy and the chocolate factory: 

So I’m not coming to you with advice. Or candies wrapped in neat little packages. I just want to say that sometimes writing is messy. And hard. And there are times I just want to sweep those chocolates off the belt and start from scratch. Oh, and remember that deadline I mentioned? Well, that book was due…yesterday!

It’s WEEK THREE check in time!

Happy check in day, friends!

I know week three has come and gone. Crazy, isn’t it? Didn’t we just get started?

If you’re like me, you may have had some set backs. Weekends are particularly tough for me because, um, family. They’re so demanding. They like to be fed and have clean clothes and stuff. And, if I’m being honest, I’ve been binge-watching Game of Thrones and addictions to television programs can also be demanding. They call to me – “Liz, come sit down for thirty minutes. Half an episode, that’s all…” and five hours later I’m staggering to the fridge for more Halo Top ice cream and feeling that old familiar guilt – the you’re-supposed-to-be-writing guilt.

But that’s okay because I’m still going. It’s like a diet. You fall off and eat half a piece of chocolate cake, but the next day you have a salad. I’ve been eating my salads, too, and to date have added 14K to my WIP during the past three weeks. That’s pretty darn good. <Blowing on my knuckles and wiping them on my shirt.>

So don’t worry if you’ve been distracted or commandeered by other issues like the flu, the day job or Netflix, we’re still in this, friends, no matter how successful or unsuccessful you’ve been over the past three weeks. 

Here are some things you can do to up your game:

  • Set aside a particular time to write…and stick to it
  • Visit the chatroom. Hands down this is the best way to WWF. I’m serious. Go to the chatroom.
  • Ignore your inner editor
  • Or not. Progress is progress even if you must stop mid-book and return to the beginning to make sure your not wasting words. (Admission: this is what I had to do)
  • Indulge your muse. If you’re stuck, take a walk, read a book or listen to inspiring music
  • Read the daily inspirational posts at the WWF page here
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself
  • Or do. Sometimes you have to get real with yourself and recommit to your writing. That book ain’t gonna write itself.

So time to check in. If you’ve made your goal for the week, type I MADE MY GOAL in all caps at the beginning of your post. We’re going to do back flips (not real ones because most of us are too old for that…or maybe it’s just me that’s too old). But if you didn’t reach your goal, you’re still invited to tell us what’s going on. This isn’t about wagging our fingers at anyone. Nope. Not here. 

And we have prizes….

The fabulous Katie Graykowski has offered up a “First Chapter Critique (any genre except erotica)”

Kate Parker is giving out a $20 Amazon gift card (MORE books!)

And Heather McCollum has a PRIZE BUNDLE: $10 gift card to Starbucks and a digital copy of THE BEAST of AROS CASTLE

 

Okay, so leave a comment and let’s start week four with enthusiasm, determination and a smile on our faces! 

 

 

Using the Power of Words to Reach Your Goals

This is the time of year when we make goals or think about where we want to go or what we want to do in life. Some of us make lists with steps. Some of us just ponder or “dream.” Wherever you fall on the goals measuring line, I have a powerful tool to help you reach them. The tool is called a positive affirmation.

You may have heard of them before, but are you using them? Hmmm…? Even though I know how helpful these statements are, I stop doing them too. So, let’s take a little refresher together.

An affirmation is a statement, repeated either verbally, mentally, and/or through writing. When we review the words, it makes our body and mind believe they are real. And when we believe, we realign our world around that truth. Of course, we can’t bring back the dead, cure incurable diseases, or win the lottery just by saying positive affirmations – but they can help us immensely.

We’ve all seen the horrific impact of negative affirmations on people. People become their own bullies by mentally or verbally telling themselves they are failures or worse. This is self-sabotage. If you berate yourself, try talking to yourself as you would to a friend or even an acquaintance. Chances are you’ll speak kinder to yourself.

Be careful to create the positive affirmation correctly. You don’t want to inadvertently make things more negative!

  1. The statement should be specific and about something you are not yet, but want to be. Don’t feel like you’re lying. It is supposed to be something that is NOT true – yet (or that you don’t feel is true).
  2. It must be in present tense. If you say “I will be a successful writer,” that describes the future, and you won’t get there because the future is always out of reach. Replace “will be” with “am”.
  3. Use ONLY positive words. If you say “I never stop writing” your psyche will hear “stop” and leave out the “never”. Don’t say “I hate sweets.” Instead say “I love healthy food” or your mind will focus on “sweets”. There is always a way to make a statement positive.
  4. Write the statements down and post them somewhere visible. Say them out loud at least two times a day.

At one time I had ten stickies stuck to my bathroom mirror with affirmations. I recommend starting with just a few so it doesn’t seem like a chore. Some people put them in their cars so that every time they get in, they repeat the affirmations. I’ve also seen posters, which people have made with pictures and words, representing their goals – a vision board.

You may want to warn spouses or people who share the area with you. When I was trying to get pregnant I wrote “I am pregnant” on a sticky note for the bathroom mirror, so obviously I had to tell my husband what was up (BTW – I got pregnant : ).

Right around the time I submitted my manuscript, which was a finalist in the 2009 Golden Hearts, I was writing and saying “I am a published writer.” Before I even found out that I was a finalist, I sold two manuscripts.

When I was fighting ovarian cancer with grueling chemo and surgery, I said a list of thirty positive affirmations at least twice a day. I wrote new ones each night. “My body is full of health.” “My stomach is calm.” “I sleep deeply and peacefully through the night.” I used to cry them, pray them, scream them, but I made certain to say them. They served me well, helping me to calm down and shift my focus from panic to determined survival (and now I’m a 6-year survivor).

Positive affirmations.

They are simple. They work.

At this time of year, when goals are in the forefront, write a few positive affirmations and watch how powerful they can be, moving you toward positive outcomes. Here’s a brief list of some of my favorites.

 

 

 

 

I write on my manuscript every day.

I love to eat healthy food.

I do yoga and get 10K steps in every day.

I am calm and peaceful when dealing with my kids.

Every part of my body is healthy and comfortable.

I am living a long and healthy life.

I am powerful, confident and successful.

 

What are some of your positive affirmations?

Have a fabulous, full-of-positivity day!

Heather

E-mail: Heather@HeatherMcCollum.com
Website: www.HeatherMcCollum.com
Face book: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HMcCollumAuthor

How Physical Traits Influence Character

Confession: I forgot what day today was. Literally forgot it was Thursday; thought it was Wednesday and I’d have another day to write a blog post. And since I spend the bulk of Thursday night (and Wednesday morning) at the animal shelter, I didn’t have much time to think of fresh content. Luckily, I found this intriguing little self-reflective post from 2009 when I was undergoing a significant physical problem that challenged my identity and had me wondering how a character’s physical appearance impacts their emotional life.

It’s awfully cute and a little bit painful. My dad was still alive back then; my son wasn’t even conceived! Life was simpler, and I was honestly a different person with very different priorities and goals. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself so many, many things…

Many of you know that I had shoulder surgery last January [2009] to repair a ring of detached cartilage and muscle, a volleyball-induced mess that had been keeping me from all of my favorite hobbies and a chunk of my duties as a zookeeper. Though I didn’t know the extent of the injury before the surgery, I’d hoped the surgeon would provide a relatively quick fix—the most likely procedure would require a three-month healing period plus another six to nine months of rehabilitation. It didn’t sound too bad. I felt obligated to quit zookeeping, though, just before the surgery. I couldn’t see a way around it, and besides, wouldn’t it be nice to spend the year of recovery writing?

Stretch Your Wings: Top Ten Tips for Introverts at Conferences

Before I began attending writers’ conferences, I thought of myself as an extrovert.

Dressed for battle in gray wool and white silk, I fearlessly strode into my first conference ready to conquer the romance-writing world. I’d thought of writing as a profession, and by that time, I was awfully good at being professional. I was ready to kick ass and take names on my way to the top.

But instead of businesspeople giving each other firm handshakes and exchanging business cards, I saw women running into each others’ arms and huddling in tight little groups, dishing gossip and reminiscing like long-lost friends.

Which they were, of course. They weren’t competitors. They weren’t colleagues.

They were friends.

Panic tightened my throat as my stomach lurched. I realized my error, for this wasn’t a work conference.

This was high school!

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The Latest Comments

  • Laurie Kellogg: What a wonderful post, Beth. I hope your book helps to educate the public on the challenges of Autism.
  • Kate Parker: Lovely post, Beth. And yes, romance writers are very supportive, even of mystery writers!
  • Elizabeth Langston: So many people could be thanked, but it’s nice to get an opportunity to give a special word...
  • Julia Day: Yes, and you’ve been great and supportive, too. I can thank you enough!
  • Bev Pettersen: This is a lovely post, Beth. From the very beginning, I was astonished and grateful at how generous...

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