Thursday, January 29, 2015

Transition from Part-Time Hobby in Writing to Full-Time Career

A writer friend of mine asked me to write a blog post on how to transition his writing from a part-time hobby to a full-time career, and he got me thinking.

How did I do it exactly? And how might my writing journey differ from his?

I went back over some of my previous posts, and found this little trinket:

The post describes my journey from magazine and newspaper writing, to college, to published books; even to starting my own publishing company.

Perhaps it's time for me to fill in the gaps.

When I began writing, it was on a smaller scale, and I was earning a part-time paycheck within various retail establishments. During this time I was also writing for the The Salt Lake Tribune, as a stringer and going to school. Later, I took on an online copy writing job. In-between writing what I wanted to write, I wrote what others wanted me to write, and I think that's important.

Yes, I was finally able to quit my part-time job in sales, and the risk was there, (I was not yet making what I made working even part-time) but I knew it was time to focus on what I loved. AND, and this is an important and, I was not supporting my family; thus the part-time work.

For my friend, he has a different scenario in front of him. He has a wife and child and a mortgage payment. It wouldn't be wise to quit and just jump into a full-time writing career, as I'm sure he knows. But with that said, I still think my path may be of use to him.

1. I worked the writing in slowly. I started working for newspapers, including the college newspaper. Previous to working in the newspaper field, I practiced my craft until I got good enough to publish in a newspaper. Dare I say it? It took me eight years.

Though I started my blog much later, (after I'd published a couple of books) starting a blog early on would be a good transition into journalism. It's always a good idea to learn non-fiction writing because you will need it later when you are marketing your books. :)

Not everyone feels that they can write non-fiction, but I believe they are doing themselves a great disservice if they choose not to learn it. In non-fiction writing, especially in journalism, a writer learns to take himself or herself out of the picture and report the facts at hand. He/she learns how to cut and use only the most necessary words for an article. He/she learns about interviewing others, about meeting deadlines, about clarity in the article and even, accuracy. All of these things have helped me as I've then published my books.

2. As the writer grows in experience, a sloughing off of other jobs naturally results. I remember the day I gave up my online copy writing job because it wasn't meeting my writing needs. What was I writing? Technical stuff about televisions, cameras and such. I didn't love this work, but I liked it enough to do it for a couple of years, until something better came along. Even today, as I look for freelance writing work, I am very careful about what I take on. But I couldn't be this particular in the beginning when I was learning the craft. Some jobs I took on didn't even pay me; some jobs I take on today still don't, but they fit in with my writing needs.

3. Dear friend, there may come a day when you can totally and completely give up your full-time job for a full-time writing career, but it may take some time. To be honest, I don't have one writing friend who works full-time in writing, who has been able to totally drop the full-time job away from it (a part-time job, maybe, but not a full-time job). And maybe that's because I'm not yet friends with Mary Higgins Clark or Richard Paul Evans :)

Having said that, however, I don't want you to give up on your dream. Right now I am making a part-time wage on a full-time writing career, but I don't expect it to last forever. I am continually publishing books, my writing business is growing each year, and I find that the more I focus on what I love and DO IT, the more that God provides for me.

I know He will do the same for you.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Wednesday Sandwich and Writing

I love sandwiches--if I have decent bread. No cheap stuff for me. I also like good stuff in the center. You know. Nice ham or turkey with all of the trimmings.

Cheap bread is a little like cheap writing. Cheap ingredients like the old tuna fish in the refrigerator will never satisfy me.


When it comes to your own writing you may say to yourself: "This is good enough, I really don't need to go through another edit. Please..."

But maybe, you do.

In-between the first draft and the end of your book, there's this lovely land of polishing that must take place, though you may agree with me that even after all of the polishing, the smoothing out, one or two errors still manage to find themselves within your work. :)

I've had this happen more times than I'd like to admit. And that doesn't mean I haven't gotten beta readers and editors to go over my work. And it doesn't mean that I haven't re-read my manuscript that final time for those little 'squeakers' hiding out.

But there is something about the middle of the sandwich; maybe it's the juicy taste or the stale re-reading that gets me down, but, try as I might, though the top piece is good and the bottom piece is yummy (I love the beginning and I love the end) there is something that can get lost in the middle like that piece of ham, if I'm not careful.

And I want to be careful, because I want my work to be the best, complete sandwich, if you will.

Other than editing, there are many things I need to look at when it comes to my Wednesday sandwich. Are my characters individuals? Can I take out most, if not all, of the 'he said' and 'she said's' and still know who is speaking because of their individuality?

Is my setting real, or am I running again above the distant cloud with nowhere to plant my feet?

What about the plot? What about timing?

Like a proper sandwich, everything in your book should be in it's proper place, and the best ingredients should be used for the best results.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Get Motivated! Write!

How motivated are you in your writing now that a couple of weeks in January have flown by? Is it easy to relax a little, perhaps pick up your old habit like a pair of old jeans that might as well be thrown away?

I know the feeling.

Just yesterday I was going to take some time off of writing and do something else; I just didn't think I was in the mood to write. But then, the good angel said, "Now, you know that once you get started, something will come," and so I started, and the angel was right.

The guy with the black wings sat forlornly in the back corner waiting for another day.

Because the day, as we all know, will come again, because it always does.

What I find most interesting about writing is that unless you have a 9-5 job like copy writing or editing or something like that where your boss is breathing down your neck to get the project finished, it's quite a bit easier (okay, a whole lot easier) just to put the writing aside.

And it's not because you don't like to write. It isn't even because you don't find satisfaction in writing, because you do. Plain and simple. It's just easier to be lazy.

So if you're feeling lazy today and figured you'd just sit and read a dozen of my blog posts today :), don't. Stop right after you've finished this one and get started.

I mean it. Happy writing.


Monday, January 26, 2015

CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Samantha Fleming from Torn

Tell me a little about yourself (where you live, who you are, what you look like, what you hope to achieve, etc.)

My name is Samantha Fleming, but everyone just calls me Sam. I’m 21, ambitious, and dying to break out into the modeling world. I know I’m too short by most standards (5’4”) and that’s really hindered my success, thus far, but I don’t care. I’m determined to make it big, somehow…. Aside from that, I pride myself in staying in shape by jogging and yoga. My best—and only—friend, Cairi, describes me as a bit naive. She thinks if you've never been in love, you haven’t really lived. Even though I’m from a bustling and diverse area of South Florida, I've never really traveled beyond my hometown.  

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I really enjoy shopping, keeping up on the latest fashion trends, and jogging. I spend most of my time with Cairi or working as a waitress at a local sports bar; but seriously, I should be modeling....

What is your favorite color and why?

White… Like big, white lights. Or maybe silver, like the Silver Screen.
Get Torn at Amazon
What is your favorite food? Why is it your favorite?

Sorry… I’m that girl. The one that has to watch what she eats. I’m going to say a fresh spring or fruit salad.

What would you say is your biggest quirk?

I might have my head in the clouds, just a bit. I tend to not see what’s right in front of me sometimes because I’m too busy dreaming of other things.

What is it about your antagonist that irks you the most, and why?

Irks me…. Nothing about Sean irks me. ME, when it comes to him, is what irks me. I’m head over heels in love with him and I can’t seem to ever be able to say it. Those feelings are what will hold me back from my dreams, no matter how unfair that is to him.

What or who means the most to you in your life? What, if anything, would you do to keep him/her/it in your life?

In the depths of my soul, Sean means more to me than I will ever admit. I would give up my dreams for him in a heartbeat, and that’s exactly why I have to let him go…. I probably don’t deserve him anyway.

What one thing would you like readers to know about you that may not be spelled out in the book in which you inhabit?

I’m not as cruel or a dumb as the author has made me out to be. I certainly have a lot of growing up to do, but I've been through a lot of pain and abuse, and I haven’t had luck in any area of my life. My modeling dream is pretty much all I've ever really counted on. Men have hurt me, and even though Sean hasn't, I can’t know for sure that he won’t hurt me too, one day. I may act like I don’t care about my biological father, but I’m damaged by his abandonment far greater than the physical blows from my step dad.

If you could tell your writer (creator) anything about yourself that might turn the direction of the plot, what would it be?

I think I needed this. Maybe you didn't have to make me go through so many ups and downs, but in the end, I needed this journey and these lessons. It would've been easier without Colin and Micah, though! Can you delete them? Pretty, please?

Ask me any question. I've always wanted to know what a character thinks about writers like myself. I'll answer the question at the end of this interview.

What gets you through the lulls (assuming you've had any)? If you can’t focus or get the “creative juices” flowing, what do you do?

Great question. I usually have multiple projects, books if you will, in process at the same time, so if I'm feeling a bit of a lull with one project, I'll tackle another. Having this blog helps, too. I write on it almost every day. Also, I have interesting photos pulled from magazines which I delve into whenever I feel especially stopped. I pull out a picture and write about what I see using my five senses. And there are always walks away from the computer to get me moving forward again.

Thanks Samantha!

Learn more about Samantha and her creator Leslie Ann Joy at the link below:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Which comes First? Writing or the Plot?

You've probably heard the chicken and the egg quip.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?


I was thinking of this quip this morning as I went about my day and wondered how it applied to writing; for, as you know, much in life has to do with writing :) and it occurred to me that often, at least in my own writing, the outline comes after the writing and not usually before.

I have some general ideas of the plot, but, can I be honest?

Most of my plotting comes with the writing, when the character speaks in my ear and the setting and other characters follow closely behind.

And I don't think it really matters.

The tricky part comes when you're writing a mystery story and you have to have all your eggs in one basket so to speak, but I think, as a general rule, as the story moves along, so does the plot.

There are times, mind you, that I have to stop writing and do a little research, but again, as soon as the research is done I can return to my story.

How about you? Do you write by the seat of your pants like I do, or do you schedule ahead? And if you schedule, how closely do you stick with your plans when you finally get down to writing?

Would love to hear.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Alcander and Kiora from the YA Epic Fantasy series by Devri Walls

                 Tell me a little about yourself (where you live, who you are, what you look like, what you hope           to achieve, etc.)

My name is Alcander...

What are we doing? This is ridiculous, I have things of actual importance to do, there isn't time for these absurd questions...Kiora whispers in his ear.

Meet Alcander in book two!
Fine. Let’s get it over with. I’m the crown prince of Tavea, I’m as tall as I need to be and I don’t see how my height holds any relevance here. As far as my hopes…I’d almost forgotten how to hope before Kiora arrived. Things were so bad for so long it looked impossible. But now I hope to defeat the Shadow at Kiora’s side.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time is reserved for those not at war.

What is your favorite color and why?

Green. My homeland is surrounded with hills of green, a color I've been so long removed from that I've nearly forgotten exactly what it looks like.

What is your favorite food? Why is it your favorite?

Dragon meat is delightful, but Kiora will never forgive me if I eat it again.

What would you say is your biggest quirk?

Quirk? I don’t have quirks, I’m Tavean.

Kiora whispers again.

Kiora says my quirk is that I have a soft heart, but I wouldn't suggest you repeat that to anyone. I might have to cut out your tongue.

What is it about your antagonist that irks you the most, and why?

Irks? Who is this woman, asking such ridiculous questions!? The Shadow has stolen everything. We live in a darkness unfathomable to you and your kind. She has murdered tens of thousands and won't stop until we are all gone. The Shadow does not “irk” me, I despise her with everything that I am.

What or who means the most to you in your life? What, if anything, would you do to keep him/her/it in your life?

Kiora. I would sacrifice everything for her. Not because she was sent to save us, but because she inadvertently saved me. I love her innocence, it brings a light into my life I thought was long since extinguished. I don’t always understand her, but I trust her. She snuck up on me and by the 

What one thing would you like readers to know about you that may not be spelled out in the book in which you inhabit?

Before the murder of my parents and siblings, I grew up wrapped in the arms of love and laughter. I was happy. Sometimes I forget that myself. When happiness was only around for the first few years of hundreds, it becomes hard to hold onto.

If you could tell your writer (creator) anything about yourself that might turn the direction of the plot, what would it be?

Devri, I am both grateful and heartbroken in how the story ended. Are you sure that was the only way? Surely there must have been another?

Ask me any question. I've always wanted to know what a character thinks about writers like myself. I'll answer the question at the end of this interview.

Has a character, such as myself, ever affected you strongly enough that the plot of your story changed once they were born?

Yes. The wonderful thing about characters is they can tell you if the plot is going the incorrect way; they can tell you if what you have written will really come out of the main character's mouth and so on. And I believe this is good news. Listening to your characters and the lives they lead will only make your book better. Thanks for asking.

Thank you, Alcanter and Kiora!

Learn more about 

Meet Kiora in book one
 and read about her
 again in the books
to follow!

This series is YA EPIC FANTASY.

Wings of Arian

Wings of Tavea (YA)

Wings of Nestor(YA)

Wings of Lomay

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Brittany McLaughlin, author of Languish

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I've always been a writer. The first manuscript I wrote was back in third grade. Childish, and lacking in everything that could make one consider a manuscript, maybe, but it was the first step in the direction that I wanted to go. Writing has always been an outlet for me, and getting better at my craft and honing my skills have been my main focus the last decade.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?
I like writing on my laptop, mostly because my hand can’t move fast enough for the page. I've gotten extremely efficient at typing quickly, and it only seems to get better the more that I write. It also seems to help keep everything neat and legible when you type. Soon, I hope, I want to delve into talking into the computer to see if that kind of writing style would be interesting or not. Possibly when one’s hands are so cramped that you can’t write another word.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
My favorite part about writing is learning about how far my characters will allow me to take them before they break. There is an odd fascination with just how strong a psyche is, or how durable they can be. Not to mention that great strength also makes for a great thriller.

My least favorite part? I would probably have to say that would be final draft editing. I go through a loooong editing process and it is usually at its fifth edit stage before I dare send it to my editor. Because of that, I am usually sick of seeing the words at that point, and physically have to push myself to continue doing what I need to do. Fortunately, that isn't too hard.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
It really depends on the character for me. Some characters come to me after people watching, some come to me after watching a moving and going “hey what would this and that be like together?” and some of them just show up on my mind’s doorstep begging to be let in and out of the cold. How could someone say no to a request like that? My characters are human. Not just because of the fact I haven’t written anything other than humans, but because there is an innate imperfect feel to them: a complete and utter human need, for love, for life, to thrive even in the worst situations.  They grasp your heart before breaking them.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
            And Lots.
            And A little more.
            I talk a lot to people that read the same genre. Read their books—if they write—and ask them to do the same for me. I promote through my Universities, and walk to bookstores, somewhat following people and seeing if I can find a mystery reader and pitch it to them after some chatting about books. Usually people in bookstores are super open to hear some ideas. Facebook, and online stuff happens, but I don’t like telling all of my secrets ;)

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
After homework and school. My peak writing times are normally between 7 pm and 1 am. School during the day, as well as trying to do homework at a normal time keeps me from always writing during the day. Sometimes I get lucky and have the chance to sit down for hours and write. This semester I might be a bit more lucky. I have less credit hours while I am abroad, and nothing to do on Tuesday but homework and writing.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
I just finished my debut novel Languish, a mystery thriller  about a mother in search for her lost daughter. It was an exciting run and less than a week after it’s release I have been getting some good feedback.

Languish can be found at Amazon

*The main character and her partner are lesbian; 
nothing overt or sexual is included in the text
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: 
#89 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense

Now, I am working on a separate trilogy entitled: You’re Next: the Descent. It’s a Thriller/Horror with a Dystopian theme twined in. It questions human ideals when playing a terrifying game with a chance of winning money. Just exactly how far will someone go for the chance at gaining riches and fame? It’s probably going to be longer than my first, but it is going to be three books as well.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
Lots of piles of projects on the back burner. Any time I have a dream that sticks with me, I write it down and keep the journal with me so that I can use it for a rainy day. Many of them don’t stick to the Genre’s that I like to write, but I put them down anyway just in case I did decide to use them. There are too many to count, or even explain. Unless, of course, you want to be here all day.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
Don’t stop writing. Ever. Take criticism, but take it from those you believe to be telling you truthful information. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Talent is half the battle while good editing, formatting, and marketing is the second step. Love your work and realize that writing a book is like having another child. Independent publishing is difficult, but it is possible. Your book is your business, and sometimes you have to put money into the business before you can get money out. Write without fear, and edit without mercy.

Thank you, Brittany!

Learn more about Brittany here: