authentic writing

Interview + Giveaway with Author Sherry Isaac!

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Sherry Isaac is an exquisitely talented author with a new release out! A beautiful book of short stories entitled STORYTELLER. This is Sherry’s second visit with me on One Word at a Time. Last week she spoke about Imagination. This week we’ll learn more about Sherry’s journey to publication and her views on writing.

For last weeks post: Click here.
For her Ruby Slippered Sisterhood post on writing short: Click here.

Remember to comment or post a question for Sherry to be entered to WIN:
 1 of 5 custom bookmarks pictured below.  (Internat.)
And a copy of STORYTELLER (US/Can)

I first met Sherry Isaac at Margie Lawson’s Immersion Master Class where 7 writers were corralled at Margie’s mountainside home in Colorado for a week of 10+ hour days of writing and critiquing and learning. It was an amazing experience and I recommend Margie’s classes to everyone! I hope to find an Immersion Master Class II to attend soon.

Within a few hours of meeting Sherry I adored her. She is one of those easy-going, fun-loving, warm individuals who can make you feel like you’ve known them forever. Within a day of meeting her I was awed by the breadth of her writing ability.

Sherry is an amazing author and an even better friend. Her first collection of shorts, STORYTELLER, debuted last month, July 2011.

Welcome, Sherry!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What is your favorite story in the new collection, STORYTELLER? Why? 

Ask this question on a different day and you’ll get a different answer. Today I’ll say, A Love of Reading.

The weather is great and I’ve been working in my garden and sprucing up the lawn. Grandpa would be proud. My grandfather always had the prettiest garden, the plumpest tomatoes, the softest, greenest grass, the ‘bloomiest’ flowers.

Eight, maybe ten years ago, I heard a story about my grandparents no one had shared before. It was how they met. While the rest of A Love of Reading has nothing to do with my grandparents’ lives other than their till-death-do-us-part devotion, when I heard the story of how they met, I knew I’d have to use it some day. When Simon and Lila’s story came to me, I knew I’d found the right story to honour that snippet of my grandparents’ lives. I don’t know how their first conversation was sparked. I don’t know what Grandpa said to Grandma. But I know they met at Woolworth’s in downtown Winnipeg on a Wednesday. And I know they ended up spending a scandalous afternoon in the park…Kissing!

How hard has launching your book been? Were there any surprises?

Yikes.

The biggest surprise was the amount of time it takes, so start early. I’d read a lot and felt prepared in terms of what to try, and what might be a waste of time. I built a small platform through keeping in touch with class and workshop mates and doing readings. I don’t know what I’d do now or where to start had I not spent all of my writing days leading up to this point doing exactly those things.

I recently took an online class in growing your audience, and had already come across and applied most of the information prior to this class so in that regard, I felt I was ahead of the game. But the time commitment is unreal. It reaffirmed my decision to start early.

If I could have, I’d have reached through the screen and gently smacked the handful of writers in that class who didn’t feel it was necessary to start a website or blog or other form of internet presence, including commenting or guest blogging, until they had a contract in hand.

I’ve had my website up for almost two years. When I think of all the tweaking and starting over from scratch that I did? It’s akin to writing a novel. Trash this, revise that. Highlight this, emphasize that. Reshuffle, reorganize, redesign. And that’s just the website!

Network. Network network network. Network till your fingers bleed.Throw a pebble in your pond the circle will expand outward. Throw a pebble in your pond and a pond in California and a pond in Texas and a pond in Colorado and a pond in British Columbia, and the circles will expand outward and overlap.

Can you talk about the writing journey? How long has the road been and how hard? 

I played with the notion of writing for years, as long as memory, and even indulged in a few courses along the way, but it was early in 2001 that I admitted out loud that I wanted to write. Early in 2004 I went to a workshop on getting published, curious but prepared for a scam, some pond thing feeding off the naive dreams of others.

It so wasn’t.

Workshops and classes continued, I immersed myself in classes, critiques, books on writing craft, became part of a critique group. Becoming part of the writing community helped me stay focused and BELIEVE!

Hard? Depends on your definition of the word. If you consider an oak plank swung against your forehead at a hundred kilometers an hour hard, then yes. Very. Painful, too, and it leaves one heck of a mark. Splinters break through the skin and seep into your soft brain tissue, become embedded, make you who you are.

What makes a writer stick with it?

Knee-jerk answer? Insanity.

Serious hat on now. It can be really hard to take the rejection, to sort through conflicting feedback, to continue to learn your craft while pushing through to the end of your manuscript. Before you have a book published, its hard to be taken seriously as a writer. For some, if you’re not paid, not published, the simple act of writing doesn’t qualify as being a writer.

Most important, as solitary as writing is, I would never have grown–as a writer and as a person–or seen publication without the support of fellow writers. This goes for critiquing too. Criticism can be hard to hear, but you don’t improve by being told your writing is perfect. My writing peers are my lifeline. Their encouragement, our shared successes and failures, are invaluable. There is so much to know. We learn from each other. And when we succeed, we have precious friends to share in the success. When a friend wins a contest, gets a great review, signs a contract, I whoop for joy.

Your trademark seems to be your surprise endings. Do they come to you first as you write or are they a surprise to you, too?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. What You Wish For was a no. I worked through all the scenes and got to the point where I didn’t know what else I could do with the story plot wise. Megan had already written, what was it, five letters at that point. The crux was made. I had to wrap it up. Then a tickle of delight as I realized how to end the story. It was all there, I just had to go back and make sure the links were clear, emphasize this, make a casual mention of that, tweak that other thing, so at the end all the clues added up.

Your story, Sweet Dreams, is masterfully developed. How much rewriting did it and other stories take?

Wow. I don’t know if I deserve that compliment, but I’ll take it! Sweet Dreams just sort of happened. The story grew out of a creative writing assignment from instructor extraordinaire Brian Henry: to write about someone who comes to a decision over a cup of tea. The original draft was scribbled out in a 20-minute session, but I knew there was something there and other than some light housekeeping, clarity and a little expansion, it remained pretty much intact. Sometimes the subconscious takes over. Not that Sweet Dreams reveals any secret desires on my part. It’s dark fun, but fun all the same. Hm. I probably shouldn’t mention that my husband snores.

What about the short story format intrigues you?

Aside from feeling a sense of accomplishment after 3000 words? The scope is narrow. Less characters, one plot thread, allows me to zero in on the issue without weaving in other elements or keeping track of other character’s goals and motivations. This more linear route to storytelling should be easier, but the stripped down aspect makes it harder to hide. Every word always counts, but in a short story there isn’t time to develop the scene or play around with setting or character traits. Characterization, goals, conflict, motivation, setting–it all has to be clear right out of the gate.
What really surprises me is that I not only can write short stories, but that I enjoy it. I never thought I could, or would.

Have you tried any other genres?

This question makes me smile. My critique group and I have had this conversation many times. What is Sherry’s genre? And that was a difficulty in trying to summarize the theme of this collection. Short stories were a way to earn publishing credits while I sought the holy grail: an agent for my novels. I never wrote them with the intention of putting together a collection. I write mystery, I write suspense, I write about ghosts and prickly paranormal chills and stories with strong romantic elements. I’ve written for younger audiences, too, though none of that work appears in Storyteller.

The summary of Storyteller turned out to be ‘tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend space, time and even the grave.

When you read Alice Munro do you read as anyone would or are your thoughts sidetracked with observations of craft?

Confession time. I am a terrible, terrible Canadian. I haven’t read a lot of Alice Munro–there’s so much! I’ve barely nicked the iceberg!–and what I read was pre I’m-serious-about-my-writing days. Because of the ‘when’ I wouldn’t have read her work comparatively, nor the work of Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood. Or Carolyn Keene, for that matter.

With years of practice and instruction behind me I’ve become a more critical reader. I tend to pick up on things that I’m sensitive to, things that were bad habits I worked hard to break. A recent read was a thriller by a well-known author. I knew his name and several friends recommended I read his work. The thriller was fast-paced, intriguing, great characterizations, juicy plot, but he had a thing for the gerund. Was sitting instead of sat. Was thinking instead of thought. Was pacing instead of paced. I wanted to correct those gerunds because that’s what I look for and nix in my work. A little habit I reversed during NaNo. All those wases added up!

When in the hands of a capable writer (Sue Grafton, Lynda Simmons, Harlen Coben) I am carried away on their ocean of words and don’t notice a thing, other than great writing and the jealous monster that whispers in my head, ‘Why didn’t you think of that?’

How much reading do you do and what do you read most?

I’ve always had a book on the go. When I became more serious about writing I made a point of reading more, and keeping track of the books I read, as well as reading other genres and authors I wasn’t familiar with. I try to balance fiction with non-fiction 2 to 1, since there are so many topics that intrigue me. In 2008 I read 33 books, a personal best. The number slid in 2009 and in 2010 I read 19 books, a testament to how much more I am writing.

The mystery/suspense genre will always be my favourite.

What or who gives you the energy to keep going when the blocks come? Or do they come?

Energy? Where? Have you been reading fairy tales again?

Balance. Critiquing partners and I are always talking balance. Balance is different for everyone. For me it’s time outs with family, tea with a friend, getting in touch with writers in an informal setting, like a reading or a retreat or just dinner. I like to putter in my garden. I like to read. Exercise is great. A walk at the water’s edge. These things recharge my batteries and I’m amazed at how sticky points in a manuscript or character sketch can come together if I take a step away and let perspective slip things into place when I’m not looking. But it’s important to come back to the work.

I don’t really buy into the ‘writer’s block’ phenomenon. One good writing chum puts it this way: does your server in a restaurant get server’s block? I’m sure there are writers out there who would argue that it’s real but for me, blocks, if they do exist, come from within. If I’m stumped, I look for the why. If I’m not sure where to take a plot point, I let it simmer and work on another chapter, do a bit of research, rethink a character.

Sometimes I’m ‘blocked’ because something isn’t working. Trust and tap into the subconscious. It could be telling you something important. Maybe a character’s consistency of motivation is off, maybe a weak plot point is treading a twisting path to nowhere. Stepping away helps. Returning to the work is crucial.

What do you know now about establishing yourself as a writer that you wish you had known in the beginning? When was the beginning?

There were false starts along the way, but the official beginning would have been that workshop in 2004.

In the beginning I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I thought I was a literary genius. That’s part of the curve. Seven years later, I know that I’m not a literary genius, but I am a better writer than I was seven years ago.

*Interview reprinted with permission from Elaine Cougler and Sherry Isaac.

Remember to comment or post a question for Sherry to be entered to WIN:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks pictured below. (Internat.)
And a copy of STORYTELLER (US/Can)

*MUST leave a contact email to WIN*

Winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Award, Sherry Isaac’s tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend all things, including the grave, appear online and in print. Her first collection of shorts, Storyteller, debuts July 2011. For more information, or to order an autographed copy, click HERE.

>Interview + Giveaway with Author Sherry Isaac!

>

Sherry Isaac is an exquisitely talented author with a new release out! A beautiful book of short stories entitled STORYTELLER. This is Sherry’s second visit with me on One Word at a Time. Last week she spoke about Imagination. This week we’ll learn more about Sherry’s journey to publication and her views on writing.

For last weeks post: Click here.
For her Ruby Slippered Sisterhood post on writing short: Click here.

Remember to comment or post a question for Sherry to be entered to WIN:
 1 of 5 custom bookmarks pictured below.  (Internat.)
And a copy of STORYTELLER (US/Can)

I first met Sherry Isaac at Margie Lawson’s Immersion Master Class where 7 writers were corralled at Margie’s mountainside home in Colorado for a week of 10+ hour days of writing and critiquing and learning. It was an amazing experience and I recommend Margie’s classes to everyone! I hope to find an Immersion Master Class II to attend soon.

Within a few hours of meeting Sherry I adored her. She is one of those easy-going, fun-loving, warm individuals who can make you feel like you’ve known them forever. Within a day of meeting her I was awed by the breadth of her writing ability.

Sherry is an amazing author and an even better friend. Her first collection of shorts, STORYTELLER, debuted last month, July 2011.

Welcome, Sherry!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What is your favorite story in the new collection, STORYTELLER? Why? 

Ask this question on a different day and you’ll get a different answer. Today I’ll say, A Love of Reading.

The weather is great and I’ve been working in my garden and sprucing up the lawn. Grandpa would be proud. My grandfather always had the prettiest garden, the plumpest tomatoes, the softest, greenest grass, the ‘bloomiest’ flowers.

Eight, maybe ten years ago, I heard a story about my grandparents no one had shared before. It was how they met. While the rest of A Love of Reading has nothing to do with my grandparents’ lives other than their till-death-do-us-part devotion, when I heard the story of how they met, I knew I’d have to use it some day. When Simon and Lila’s story came to me, I knew I’d found the right story to honour that snippet of my grandparents’ lives. I don’t know how their first conversation was sparked. I don’t know what Grandpa said to Grandma. But I know they met at Woolworth’s in downtown Winnipeg on a Wednesday. And I know they ended up spending a scandalous afternoon in the park…Kissing!

How hard has launching your book been? Were there any surprises?

Yikes.

The biggest surprise was the amount of time it takes, so start early. I’d read a lot and felt prepared in terms of what to try, and what might be a waste of time. I built a small platform through keeping in touch with class and workshop mates and doing readings. I don’t know what I’d do now or where to start had I not spent all of my writing days leading up to this point doing exactly those things.

I recently took an online class in growing your audience, and had already come across and applied most of the information prior to this class so in that regard, I felt I was ahead of the game. But the time commitment is unreal. It reaffirmed my decision to start early.

If I could have, I’d have reached through the screen and gently smacked the handful of writers in that class who didn’t feel it was necessary to start a website or blog or other form of internet presence, including commenting or guest blogging, until they had a contract in hand.

I’ve had my website up for almost two years. When I think of all the tweaking and starting over from scratch that I did? It’s akin to writing a novel. Trash this, revise that. Highlight this, emphasize that. Reshuffle, reorganize, redesign. And that’s just the website!

Network. Network network network. Network till your fingers bleed.Throw a pebble in your pond the circle will expand outward. Throw a pebble in your pond and a pond in California and a pond in Texas and a pond in Colorado and a pond in British Columbia, and the circles will expand outward and overlap.

Can you talk about the writing journey? How long has the road been and how hard? 

I played with the notion of writing for years, as long as memory, and even indulged in a few courses along the way, but it was early in 2001 that I admitted out loud that I wanted to write. Early in 2004 I went to a workshop on getting published, curious but prepared for a scam, some pond thing feeding off the naive dreams of others.

It so wasn’t.

Workshops and classes continued, I immersed myself in classes, critiques, books on writing craft, became part of a critique group. Becoming part of the writing community helped me stay focused and BELIEVE!

Hard? Depends on your definition of the word. If you consider an oak plank swung against your forehead at a hundred kilometers an hour hard, then yes. Very. Painful, too, and it leaves one heck of a mark. Splinters break through the skin and seep into your soft brain tissue, become embedded, make you who you are.

What makes a writer stick with it?

Knee-jerk answer? Insanity.

Serious hat on now. It can be really hard to take the rejection, to sort through conflicting feedback, to continue to learn your craft while pushing through to the end of your manuscript. Before you have a book published, its hard to be taken seriously as a writer. For some, if you’re not paid, not published, the simple act of writing doesn’t qualify as being a writer.

Most important, as solitary as writing is, I would never have grown–as a writer and as a person–or seen publication without the support of fellow writers. This goes for critiquing too. Criticism can be hard to hear, but you don’t improve by being told your writing is perfect. My writing peers are my lifeline. Their encouragement, our shared successes and failures, are invaluable. There is so much to know. We learn from each other. And when we succeed, we have precious friends to share in the success. When a friend wins a contest, gets a great review, signs a contract, I whoop for joy.

Your trademark seems to be your surprise endings. Do they come to you first as you write or are they a surprise to you, too?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. What You Wish For was a no. I worked through all the scenes and got to the point where I didn’t know what else I could do with the story plot wise. Megan had already written, what was it, five letters at that point. The crux was made. I had to wrap it up. Then a tickle of delight as I realized how to end the story. It was all there, I just had to go back and make sure the links were clear, emphasize this, make a casual mention of that, tweak that other thing, so at the end all the clues added up.

Your story, Sweet Dreams, is masterfully developed. How much rewriting did it and other stories take?

Wow. I don’t know if I deserve that compliment, but I’ll take it! Sweet Dreams just sort of happened. The story grew out of a creative writing assignment from instructor extraordinaire Brian Henry: to write about someone who comes to a decision over a cup of tea. The original draft was scribbled out in a 20-minute session, but I knew there was something there and other than some light housekeeping, clarity and a little expansion, it remained pretty much intact. Sometimes the subconscious takes over. Not that Sweet Dreams reveals any secret desires on my part. It’s dark fun, but fun all the same. Hm. I probably shouldn’t mention that my husband snores.

What about the short story format intrigues you?

Aside from feeling a sense of accomplishment after 3000 words? The scope is narrow. Less characters, one plot thread, allows me to zero in on the issue without weaving in other elements or keeping track of other character’s goals and motivations. This more linear route to storytelling should be easier, but the stripped down aspect makes it harder to hide. Every word always counts, but in a short story there isn’t time to develop the scene or play around with setting or character traits. Characterization, goals, conflict, motivation, setting–it all has to be clear right out of the gate.
What really surprises me is that I not only can write short stories, but that I enjoy it. I never thought I could, or would.

Have you tried any other genres?

This question makes me smile. My critique group and I have had this conversation many times. What is Sherry’s genre? And that was a difficulty in trying to summarize the theme of this collection. Short stories were a way to earn publishing credits while I sought the holy grail: an agent for my novels. I never wrote them with the intention of putting together a collection. I write mystery, I write suspense, I write about ghosts and prickly paranormal chills and stories with strong romantic elements. I’ve written for younger audiences, too, though none of that work appears in Storyteller.

The summary of Storyteller turned out to be ‘tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend space, time and even the grave.

When you read Alice Munro do you read as anyone would or are your thoughts sidetracked with observations of craft?

Confession time. I am a terrible, terrible Canadian. I haven’t read a lot of Alice Munro–there’s so much! I’ve barely nicked the iceberg!–and what I read was pre I’m-serious-about-my-writing days. Because of the ‘when’ I wouldn’t have read her work comparatively, nor the work of Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood. Or Carolyn Keene, for that matter.

With years of practice and instruction behind me I’ve become a more critical reader. I tend to pick up on things that I’m sensitive to, things that were bad habits I worked hard to break. A recent read was a thriller by a well-known author. I knew his name and several friends recommended I read his work. The thriller was fast-paced, intriguing, great characterizations, juicy plot, but he had a thing for the gerund. Was sitting instead of sat. Was thinking instead of thought. Was pacing instead of paced. I wanted to correct those gerunds because that’s what I look for and nix in my work. A little habit I reversed during NaNo. All those wases added up!

When in the hands of a capable writer (Sue Grafton, Lynda Simmons, Harlen Coben) I am carried away on their ocean of words and don’t notice a thing, other than great writing and the jealous monster that whispers in my head, ‘Why didn’t you think of that?’

How much reading do you do and what do you read most?

I’ve always had a book on the go. When I became more serious about writing I made a point of reading more, and keeping track of the books I read, as well as reading other genres and authors I wasn’t familiar with. I try to balance fiction with non-fiction 2 to 1, since there are so many topics that intrigue me. In 2008 I read 33 books, a personal best. The number slid in 2009 and in 2010 I read 19 books, a testament to how much more I am writing.

The mystery/suspense genre will always be my favourite.

What or who gives you the energy to keep going when the blocks come? Or do they come?

Energy? Where? Have you been reading fairy tales again?

Balance. Critiquing partners and I are always talking balance. Balance is different for everyone. For me it’s time outs with family, tea with a friend, getting in touch with writers in an informal setting, like a reading or a retreat or just dinner. I like to putter in my garden. I like to read. Exercise is great. A walk at the water’s edge. These things recharge my batteries and I’m amazed at how sticky points in a manuscript or character sketch can come together if I take a step away and let perspective slip things into place when I’m not looking. But it’s important to come back to the work.

I don’t really buy into the ‘writer’s block’ phenomenon. One good writing chum puts it this way: does your server in a restaurant get server’s block? I’m sure there are writers out there who would argue that it’s real but for me, blocks, if they do exist, come from within. If I’m stumped, I look for the why. If I’m not sure where to take a plot point, I let it simmer and work on another chapter, do a bit of research, rethink a character.

Sometimes I’m ‘blocked’ because something isn’t working. Trust and tap into the subconscious. It could be telling you something important. Maybe a character’s consistency of motivation is off, maybe a weak plot point is treading a twisting path to nowhere. Stepping away helps. Returning to the work is crucial.

What do you know now about establishing yourself as a writer that you wish you had known in the beginning? When was the beginning?

There were false starts along the way, but the official beginning would have been that workshop in 2004.

In the beginning I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I thought I was a literary genius. That’s part of the curve. Seven years later, I know that I’m not a literary genius, but I am a better writer than I was seven years ago.

*Interview reprinted with permission from Elaine Cougler and Sherry Isaac.

Remember to comment or post a question for Sherry to be entered to WIN:
1 of 5 custom bookmarks pictured below. (Internat.)
And a copy of STORYTELLER (US/Can)

*MUST leave a contact email to WIN*

Winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Award, Sherry Isaac’s tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend all things, including the grave, appear online and in print. Her first collection of shorts, Storyteller, debuts July 2011. For more information, or to order an autographed copy, click HERE.

FINGER LICKIN’ DEAD — Release Day & Giveaway!

>

If you’re a writer and you’re on Twitter, you probably already know Elizabeth Spann Craig. She is the guru of writing related articles, scouring over 2000 blogs for the best info and posting links to them to her nearly 10,000 followers.


In relation to my last post (where you can STILL comment to enter a giveaway for a Barnes & Noble card) Elizabeth knows how to build good karma.


On TWITTER she goes by @elizabethscraig.
On the WEB, her blog has been named Writer’s Digest as one of the top 101 websites for authors.
And she writes under the psuedonym RILEY ADAMS.

I thoroughly enjoyed her first cozy released by Berkeley, DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS, with its quirky characters, quick pace and twisting plot.  And I can’t wait to get my copy of FINGER LICKIN’ DEAD in the mail!


FINGER LICKIN’ DEAD: When an anonymous food critic blasts several local restaurants—including Aunt Pat’s—Lulu Taylor and her customers are biting mad, especially when they learn that Eppie Currian is the pen name of their friend Evelyn’s cheating boyfriend. When “Eppie” gets his own fatal review, the list of suspects is longer than the list of specials at the best BBQ place in Memphis.


To celebrate Elizabeth’s release, I’m giving away 5 copies of her book — your choice of Kindle or print — AND 5 handmade bookmarks I created especially for this book!

To enter for your chance to win a set of book and bookmark, just tell us here: What was the best mystery you’ve read lately?
(For an additional chance to win, tweet/RT the contest on twitter with #fingerlickindead in the message. I’ll be keeping track and adding your name into the hat a second time.)
Thanks for playing! Good luck!

>FINGER LICKIN’ DEAD — Release Day & Giveaway!

>

If you’re a writer and you’re on Twitter, you probably already know Elizabeth Spann Craig. She is the guru of writing related articles, scouring over 2000 blogs for the best info and posting links to them to her nearly 10,000 followers.


In relation to my last post (where you can STILL comment to enter a giveaway for a Barnes & Noble card) Elizabeth knows how to build good karma.


On TWITTER she goes by @elizabethscraig.
On the WEB, her blog has been named Writer’s Digest as one of the top 101 websites for authors.
And she writes under the psuedonym RILEY ADAMS.

I thoroughly enjoyed her first cozy released by Berkeley, DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS, with its quirky characters, quick pace and twisting plot.  And I can’t wait to get my copy of FINGER LICKIN’ DEAD in the mail!


FINGER LICKIN’ DEAD: When an anonymous food critic blasts several local restaurants—including Aunt Pat’s—Lulu Taylor and her customers are biting mad, especially when they learn that Eppie Currian is the pen name of their friend Evelyn’s cheating boyfriend. When “Eppie” gets his own fatal review, the list of suspects is longer than the list of specials at the best BBQ place in Memphis.


To celebrate Elizabeth’s release, I’m giving away 5 copies of her book — your choice of Kindle or print — AND 5 handmade bookmarks I created especially for this book!

To enter for your chance to win a set of book and bookmark, just tell us here: What was the best mystery you’ve read lately?
(For an additional chance to win, tweet/RT the contest on twitter with #fingerlickindead in the message. I’ll be keeping track and adding your name into the hat a second time.)
Thanks for playing! Good luck!

>Underlying Motivation – Getting Through the Rough Spots

>

Writing after you’ve sold is very different than writing with the goal of selling in mind. I wouldn’t say it’s either better or worse…just different.

Instead of writing toward your own vision, a reckoning force now has altering input. This force will take the shape of your agent or your editor, or both. If you’ve chosen these professionals well, their ideas and suggestions will take your skills and storytelling to a new level. They will push you and challenge you. They will, ultimately, make you a better writer. And this is exactly what you want, because you’re look at writing as a career, not a single contract.  Right?

Your answer at the sign of contract:

  • Absolutely!

And after you discuss changes:

  • Shock: Wow. That’s a lot of work. Like…a lot.
  • Reaffirmation: I’ll be a better writer. This will be a better story. It will all be worth the effort. This is what I want.

And somewhere around ¼ way amidst revisions:

  • First inkling of fear: How in the heck am I going to do what she wanted? In the page count she wanted? I’m good, but…am I that good?
  • Reaffirmation: She believes I can do it. This is what I want. I love this story. I love these characters. I can do this.

And somewhere about ½ way through:

  • Frustration, doubt and recognizable fear: What the hell did I sign up for? Why am I doing this again? What if she hates it when I’m done? Could I face doing this again?
  • Resignation: If I back out now, I’ve killed any chance of having that writing career I’ve dreamed of. I’ll lose all self-respect. The story is strong. The characters are compelling. I have to push through.

And about ¾ of the way done:

  • Apprehension & disbelief: Holy shit. Was I high when I said I could make those changes she wanted? By that date? In that word count? When was the last time I went to the grocery store? Did laundry? Showered? Can I kill these characters now? Is it too late to change my plot to something worthwhile? Who are these kids running around my house calling me mom? Who is this man calling me honey? What day is it? No…more importantly, how many days do I have left to deadline? Will every book be like this? Is this really what I wanted?
  • Blind ambition and an incongruous trust in the universe: Don’t look up to see how far you still have to go. Don’t look down to see how much work you’ve already done. Don’t look around to see what else is passing you by. Just. Keep. Working. You gave your word. You have to follow through.

This is where knowing your underlying motivation for writing will pull you through.

I’m not talking about surface motivation: Writing is fun. It’s fun to make up characters and tell stories. Writing is creative. It’s my outlet.

None of those will get you through those rough stages.  At least not time after time, book after book.

Only recognizing and honoring your core motivation will keep you focused and give you the purpose you need to push up that hill.

So, why do you need to write?

Yes, it can be a creative outlet, but it had better be one that speaks to your soul. One you feel empty without. One that can’t be filled with any other creative media, because I’ve tried many, and they’re all a hell of a lot easier than writing. And most pay more, too.

Yes, it can even be for the money, but that sale must be something that validates you on a visceral level, because there are far easier ways to earn a paycheck—bigger, faster and in an equally creative field.

I’ve know for a long time that writing for me is both a curse and a calling.  In my gut I know I couldn’t stop writing, no matter how grueling.

Only after going through all the above stages twice, first with the revisions of my debut novel, FEVER, and again with the completion of my second novel, BLAZE, which shares an overarching plot and characters in common, did I discover why.

My underlying motivation to write is communication.


At the deepest part of me, I need to communicate. First and foremost, with a core part of myself. But just as important to the process is sharing the result of that communication with the reader. 

I am a lover of prose.  Not purple prose, but purposeful prose.  I craft and recraft and recraft sentences and paragraphs and scenes with the ultimate goal of expressing whatever deep emotion simmers within my character. Whatever it is he or she needs to voice in order to grow and change and ultimately find happiness.

That’s what we all seek, isn’t it?  Happiness in one form or another?

My goal, I discovered, is piecing words together in an effort to find the most powerful way to express my character’s struggles on the path to reaching this goal.  The battle of their individual inner demons.  I strive to portray situations and characters and ultimately toil a compelling story that speaks to the reader through emotion.

And story is emotion.

So in the darkest moments of writing, when I’m sure I’ll never weave the threads I’ve pulled from the bolt into the tapestry I imagined, I remember that base need to communicate.  

I need to communicate in order to understand myself and others. I need to understand myself and others in order to make sense of this world and my life and all that happens day to day.  

I need to write in order to be me. Authentically.

Why do you write?

Underlying Motivation – Getting Through the Rough Spots

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Writing after you’ve sold is very different than writing with the goal of selling in mind. I wouldn’t say it’s either better or worse…just different.

Instead of writing toward your own vision, a reckoning force now has altering input. This force will take the shape of your agent or your editor, or both. If you’ve chosen these professionals well, their ideas and suggestions will take your skills and storytelling to a new level. They will push you and challenge you. They will, ultimately, make you a better writer. And this is exactly what you want, because you’re look at writing as a career, not a single contract.  Right?

Your answer at the sign of contract:

  • Absolutely!

And after you discuss changes:

  • Shock: Wow. That’s a lot of work. Like…a lot.
  • Reaffirmation: I’ll be a better writer. This will be a better story. It will all be worth the effort. This is what I want.

And somewhere around ¼ way amidst revisions:

  • First inkling of fear: How in the heck am I going to do what she wanted? In the page count she wanted? I’m good, but…am I that good?
  • Reaffirmation: She believes I can do it. This is what I want. I love this story. I love these characters. I can do this.

And somewhere about ½ way through:

  • Frustration, doubt and recognizable fear: What the hell did I sign up for? Why am I doing this again? What if she hates it when I’m done? Could I face doing this again?
  • Resignation: If I back out now, I’ve killed any chance of having that writing career I’ve dreamed of. I’ll lose all self-respect. The story is strong. The characters are compelling. I have to push through.

And about ¾ of the way done:

  • Apprehension & disbelief: Holy shit. Was I high when I said I could make those changes she wanted? By that date? In that word count? When was the last time I went to the grocery store? Did laundry? Showered? Can I kill these characters now? Is it too late to change my plot to something worthwhile? Who are these kids running around my house calling me mom? Who is this man calling me honey? What day is it? No…more importantly, how many days do I have left to deadline? Will every book be like this? Is this really what I wanted?
  • Blind ambition and an incongruous trust in the universe: Don’t look up to see how far you still have to go. Don’t look down to see how much work you’ve already done. Don’t look around to see what else is passing you by. Just. Keep. Working. You gave your word. You have to follow through.

This is where knowing your underlying motivation for writing will pull you through.

I’m not talking about surface motivation: Writing is fun. It’s fun to make up characters and tell stories. Writing is creative. It’s my outlet.

None of those will get you through those rough stages.  At least not time after time, book after book.

Only recognizing and honoring your core motivation will keep you focused and give you the purpose you need to push up that hill.

So, why do you need to write?

Yes, it can be a creative outlet, but it had better be one that speaks to your soul. One you feel empty without. One that can’t be filled with any other creative media, because I’ve tried many, and they’re all a hell of a lot easier than writing. And most pay more, too.

Yes, it can even be for the money, but that sale must be something that validates you on a visceral level, because there are far easier ways to earn a paycheck—bigger, faster and in an equally creative field.

I’ve know for a long time that writing for me is both a curse and a calling.  In my gut I know I couldn’t stop writing, no matter how grueling.

Only after going through all the above stages twice, first with the revisions of my debut novel, FEVER, and again with the completion of my second novel, BLAZE, which shares an overarching plot and characters in common, did I discover why.

My underlying motivation to write is communication.


At the deepest part of me, I need to communicate. First and foremost, with a core part of myself. But just as important to the process is sharing the result of that communication with the reader. 

I am a lover of prose.  Not purple prose, but purposeful prose.  I craft and recraft and recraft sentences and paragraphs and scenes with the ultimate goal of expressing whatever deep emotion simmers within my character. Whatever it is he or she needs to voice in order to grow and change and ultimately find happiness.

That’s what we all seek, isn’t it?  Happiness in one form or another?

My goal, I discovered, is piecing words together in an effort to find the most powerful way to express my character’s struggles on the path to reaching this goal.  The battle of their individual inner demons.  I strive to portray situations and characters and ultimately toil a compelling story that speaks to the reader through emotion.

And story is emotion.

So in the darkest moments of writing, when I’m sure I’ll never weave the threads I’ve pulled from the bolt into the tapestry I imagined, I remember that base need to communicate.  

I need to communicate in order to understand myself and others. I need to understand myself and others in order to make sense of this world and my life and all that happens day to day.  

I need to write in order to be me. Authentically.

Why do you write?