Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?



Hello, Go Teen Writers! It's Jill, here for my last hosted panel of the summer. I hope you enjoyed these. I sure had a lot of fun learning about all of you. Today is the first day back to school for my kids, which means it's also the first day back to me having to wake up SUPER EARLY! :-( But that's okay. I'm most productive in the mornings, so conceivably, I'll start getting things accomplished now. Because I'm really, really behind. Really.

So, bring it 2017-2018 school year. I'm ready!


Related image

Yeah! Whoo! Bwa ha ha . . .





What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?


Shannon Dittemore
I just finished writing a book about ice road trucking in a magical land. I’ve researched a bunch of weird stuff lately. Maybe my favorite research moment was when I stumbled onto an image of an r/c ice road truck that looked identical to the rig my brain had concocted. It was amazing and I had to share it with everyone. Poor people. No one knew what I was talking about, but it was such a shock to see my imagination realized like that. Crazy, crazy.

Stephanie Morrill

“History of urinals” is the most recent weird thing I’ve searched for. I’ve also had to write some uncomfortable emails to doctor friends saying things like, “What’s something that could happen where the unborn baby would die, but they would already know what gender it was?”



Jill Williamson
The Safe Lands trilogy wins this answer, hands down, though it’s difficult to pick just one of the things I had to research as the strangest. There were so many weird things I researched for that trilogy. Here are a few:
-how to build a funeral pyre to burn dozens of corpses. :-/
-what to do for a gunshot wound.
-types of waterborne and bloodborne diseases.
-sexually transmitted diseases.
-vaping.
-being a doctor and knowing doctory stuff.
-a multitude of narcotics and their effects.
-what it feels like to take different narcotics, heroin in particular.
-GPS tracking implants for dogs (I put them in humans).
-how to disable a dam or an electrical power plant.
-how to make a simple homemade bomb. (I wonder if the FBI picked up on some of my Google searches that year...)
-people that live in underground sewers.
-artificial insemination.
-how live TV shows are filmed.
-what it feels like to be tazed.
-a day in the life of a garbage man.
-a day in the life on a cattle ranch.
-a day in the life working in a chicken slaughterhouse. :-P
-a day in the life in a maximum-security prison.
-prison horror stories. :-/
-how night vision goggles work.
-how to make your own hot air balloon. (This one I really enjoyed.)

If any of that intrigues you, read The Safe Lands trilogy and you’ll see how it all fit in. Ha ha.

In fact, just for kicks, here is the book trailer my publisher Blink made for the series. They did a great job with the Finley and Flynn Morning Show.




Now it's your turn. What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?

Monday, August 28, 2017

What's one thing you've done to become a more productive writer?


Stephanie here! Next week we'll be back to business as usual here on the blog, I'm going to be talking about being a shiny object chaser, which is true for most creatives I know. We mostly think of our tendency to get distracted as a bad thing, but there are good parts too, and we'll explore those next Monday, September fourth.

Also, Go Teen Writers Notes will resume next week. This is an email we send out every two weeks(ish) that's meant to provide encouragement to you in your writing life. When you subscribe, you get a tutorial on creating a story workbook, which is a tool of mine that has been evolving since 2008 when I signed my first contract.

The last panel question I get to ask this summer (*sniff sniff*) is, "What's one thing you've done to  become a more productive writer?"



Shannon Dittemore
I fight for my writing days. Like everyone I know, I’m busy. And when you’re the one who’s home all day, it’s easy to be asked to just watch someone’s kids for a sec, or take care of this one little thing, or be the team mom (VETO!). But I’ve had to learn to say No. It’s not easy at first, but once you see how productive a normal work schedule makes you, you’ll suffer through the awkward conversations without giving in. For the record, I only have three dedicated writing days a week. The other four days are full of activities with and for others, but I protect Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday as violently as I can.

Jill Williamson
I’m plenty productive. For me, that’s not the problem. The problem is that I end up cutting so much of what I wrote. Technically, what I’m doing is discovery writing. Since I haven’t had enough time to fully develop my stories, I end up cutting tens of thousands of words. In my Kinsman Chronicles, I cut over one hundred thousand words between all three books. That’s the length of a full novel! When I see that happen, it feels like I’m not being productive, like I’m wasting words. I’m continually reminding myself that those words were helpful to find the true story. And I know that if I give myself more time to fully develop my next project, I won’t need to cut so many words.




Stephanie Morrill
Like Shan mentioned in her comment, my "secret" to productivity has been developing a routine and guarding it. That looks different as life seasons change, but I think that's the best thing you can do to be a productive writer.

Same as Jill, I usually don't struggle with being productive. Usually, I want to be writing, and it doesn't feel hard to me to say no to lunch with friends or shopping or whatever, because I love my work so much.

But when my personal life is hard, like it has been this month, that's when I struggle to be productive. That's when I start to fall into the trap of, "I'll just take today to clean/read/Netflix binge, and then tomorrow I'll get back to my manuscript..." Usually my house is very clean during these weeks, but I'm not doing the work that feeds my soul. I find that what helps me get back in the groove is starting small. I'll tell myself, "Once I write for 25 minutes, then I can mindlessly scroll through Instagram," or whatever activity feels more appealing that writing.Often after 25 minutes, I feel motivated to keep going with writing.

Also, I'm a to-do list girl. Something that has helped me to feel productive and happy in novel writing is to keep a log of when I'm working. I treat it like a time card. I note what time I started working and what time I stopped, and I specify what part of the novel I worked on. If checking things off a list makes you happy, I would encourage you to try this. 


What about you? Have you learned any tricks that help you to be more productive?

Friday, August 25, 2017

What is your favorite way to connect with readers?



YOU GUYS! It felt like fall for about a day here and now it's back to blistering sun. It's coming, though. I believe!

Shannon here. And we are winding down our summer panels. We have a couple more next week, but this might be the last one I'm hosting. I've really enjoyed them. I'm learning so much about you guys and I hope you're all learning a lot about us and about one another as well.


What is your favorite way to connect with readers?


Shannon Dittemore
Anytime I can meet readers in person, I’m over the moon. I adore book signings, classes, and conferences, but those are very seasonal. I can be found all over the web as well: website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. I'm also sending out monthly newsletters again. But if I'm honest, Instagram is my favorite. I like sharing pics and keeping it informal. If you’re looking to connect, you can find me here: @shanditty





Jill Williamson
I love meeting readers in person too! I realize that is a rare situation, though, so online is where it happens. I love interacting with readers on my author blog, on the GTW blog, or on my Readers of Jill Williamson Facebook group. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest. And you can email me through my website too, though I am notoriously slow and replying to emails.





Stephanie Morrill
In person is great, though I turn into the most awkward version of myself possible when people tell me they like my books. Second to IRL would be email, because it means a lot when people take time out of their day to send me an email just because they liked my book. I always respond to those. Online, Instagram is my fave too (find me here) but I also enjoy conversations on Twitter.





How about you guys? I realize some of you may not have readers, just yet. But how do you like to interact with the reading and writing community?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Do you consider yourself a fast writer or a slow one? Why do you think that is? And if you are ever the opposite, why?



Hello, Go Teen Writers! Jill here. Who saw the eclipse yesterday? I did. I really liked how it made the landscape around me all golden and buttery.




This is my last week of summer. My kids start back to school next week, which means sleeping in for me is over! *weeps*

Last week I got to attend, teach, mentor, and play at yet another writers conference where I had two GTW sightings! I met author Ivy Rose and her friends, and I also saw Taylor Bennett again. Got pictures with both. :-) Click here to read more.

I also got to take an early bird workshop from screenwriting consultant Michael Hauge (who is a story genius--even Will Smith thinks so!) and the brilliant Frank Peretti, who was the conference keynoter. So much wonderful learning went into my brain. I am still trying to process it all.



We are nearing the end of our summer Q & A panels. *again weeps that summer is almost over, then remembers that Christmas will come and decides that's a good trade*

Below you'll find today's question that Stephanie, Shannon, and I have answered, and we want you to answer in the comment section so we can all learn from each other. I'm curious to read all of your answers to this one.




Do you consider yourself a fast writer or a slow one? Why do you think that is? And if you are ever the opposite, why?

Jill Williamson
Overall, I’m pretty fast. I can write a draft of a 80K novel in a month. Doesn’t mean it will be good, but I’ll have a solid rough draft. A combination of NaNoWriMo and working to meet deadlines have trained me to do this. Now, there are certain types of scenes, however, that totally destroy my work flow. Fight scenes. Major battles. Situations I know nothing about, for example, King’s Blood took place on ancient sailing ships. I knew nothing about ships, so I had to stop writing, research like crazy, and it still took me a long time to write the scenes that had to do with sailing or navigation. That’s just part of my process. I want to get those details right, so I stop and take the time to research.




Shannon Dittemore
Depends on the day. Depends on the project. Depends on LIFE. When discussing deadlines, I remember telling my publisher that I was a fast writer. How stupid was I? So stupid. It’s a dumb claim to make in such a moment and I hadn’t actually written enough at the time to understand that. My speed depends on a lot of things. My mood. My story. My schedule. The current brain space I have available for all of those things. For example, I should have been done with my current work in progress last fall. I was on schedule. Trucking along. No reason I shouldn’t make it. And then the landlord decided to put in new floors and my son was terrifyingly sick for almost a month and then our car broke down. And to cap it all off the doctors decided I needed to have my gallbladder removed. I could not have foreseen any of that and each incident required more energy, more time, and more brain space than I had to offer. My writing fell off and a book I should have finished last fall got turned into my agent in April. It’s real. It’s life. And, honestly, the ups and downs of it all can improve your story, if you’ll let it. Your imagination is still spinning back there while you’re busy doing other things. Let it. Life is not wasted on a storyteller.


Stephanie Morrill

I’m not absurdly fast. In general, I write about a thousand words an hour. But in my current stage of life, I lack consistent stretches of time in which I can write, so I don’t produce books very quickly. And my edits tend to take me quite a while.


Now it's your turn. Do you consider yourself a fast writer or a slow one? Why do you think that is? And are you ever the opposite?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Do you have a favorite app or podcast that you recommend to writers?


Hey, writers! We have two weeks left of panel questions, which has been a super fun way to discuss writing topics that aren't conducive to a traditional post. It's also been a great way for us to learn about you!

Our panel question for today is, "Do you have a favorite app or podcast that you recommend to writers?"




Shannon Dittemore
I always recommend the podcast Writing Excuses. I always feel so smart after I listen and each episode is short enough that I can cram it in while I drive around town.

Jill Williamson
I used to love Writing Excuses, though I haven’t listened to them in a few years. I don’t have much time in which I can listen to podcasts these days.




Stephanie Morrill
Shan and Jill, your answers made me laugh. Obviously I'm the one who picked this question!

I don't have any apps that I use for writing, other than Google Keep for jotting down story ideas, but I do have lots and lots of podcasts!

Here are all the podcasts (other than the aforementioned Writing Excuses) I subscribe to that benefit my writing:

Craft:

10 Minute Writer's Workshop: This one is put out by New Hampshire Public Radio and, as the title suggests, these are short interviews with writers. Big deal writers like Judy Blume, Jodi Picoult, John Scalzi, Tana French, and so on.

Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing: Surprisingly interesting, even for someone like me who doesn't looove grammar.

Helping Writers Become Authors: K.M. Weiland consistently serves up excellent writing advice with loads of easy-to-understand examples. This is my favorite craft podcast.

HopeWriters: If you're a Christian and a writer, this one is fabulous. If you're not, might not be your thing.


Business:

Building a Story Brand With Donald Miller: Though Donald Miller is a nonfiction writer, this podcast isn't really for writers. But it's a lot of marketing and branding advice for entrepreneurs. If you're into that kind of thing, it's worth checking out.

Create If Writing: A weekly podcast for writers and bloggers who want to grow their platform without being smarmy.

The Creative Penn: If you're interested in self-publishing, this is a must-listen podcast. I find the business stuff interesting, but I usually just pick and choose the episodes that I think will apply to me.

General knowledge:

Stuff You Missed in History Class: This is my biggest podcast obsession. These are 30 to 40 minute shows put out twice a week about all kinds of things in history. It was their two-part episode on Executive Order 9066 that inspired the WWII era novel of mine that will come out from Blink/HarperCollins in 2019. (More details on that later!)

Stuff You Should Know: Another great podcast that will broaden your knowledge. Their topics are really varied. I've listened to everything from an episode on toilet paper to one on grave robbing. You just never know what they're going to talk about.

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: If you're looking for brief overviews on history, this isn't the podcast for you. But if you want a 6 hour podcast on topics like "The Celtic Holocaust" then I would check this one out. What I've listened to of his is never needlessly graphic, but if you're younger or sensitive to topics revolving around battle or war, I would proceed with caution.

I've tried a lot of other writing podcasts too, but these are my favorites!


What about you? Any must-have apps or must-subscribe podcasts?

Friday, August 18, 2017

August 2017 Word War: Day Five

 Good morning, friends! Shannon here.

Well, we did it! We made it to the very last day of our very last summer 2017 word war! I hope you're getting in tons and tons of words.


What's a word war? 
A word war is when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most words in a designated period of time. Sometimes these are also referred to as "word sprints."

How does it work?
Write as much as you're able to today, and when you're done, leave a comment in this post about how the day went. You can share how many words you wrote, stumbling blocks, a favorite line you wrote, whatever you want!

You can also start mini word wars in the comments section of this blog, or on the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. (If you apply to join, leave me a comment on the blog so I can get you approved.)

The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we write. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the war goes on!


How long does it last?
This word war began Monday and will end TONIGHT! It's a come-and-go, write-when-you-can style of war, so it's never too late to join, and you don't have to participate every day. 

Write on, friends!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 2017 Word War: Day Four

Hey, writers!

It makes me a bit twitchy to not be able to be writing with you all! Technically, I'm making progress on a writing tutorial, but it's just not the same as working on fiction.

How's the word war going for you so far?




What's a word war? 

A word war is when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most words in a designated period of time. Sometimes these are also referred to as "word sprints."

How does it work?

Write as much as you're able to today, and when you're done, leave a comment in this post about how the day went. You can share how many words you wrote, stumbling blocks, a favorite line you wrote, whatever you want!

You can also start mini word wars in the comments section of this blog, or on the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. (If you apply to join, leave me a comment on the blog so I can get you approved.)

The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we write. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the war goes on!


How long does it last?

This word war began Monday and will end tomorrow night. It's a come-and-go, write-when-you-can style of war, so it's never too late to join, and you don't have to participate every day. 

Hope you have a productive day!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 2017 Word War: Day Three

Hey, writers!

I love seeing you guys support each other during the word wars. It's my favorite part of these weeks!

Since I finished my first draft back in July, and I'm still in the midst of my six week break between drafts, I'm mostly working on "other writing stuff." Including putting together the blog schedule for the rest of 2017 (if you have requests for posts, leave them in the comments!) and all the other writing-related-but-not-actually-writing tasks that get shoved off my list.




What's a word war? 

A word war is when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most words in a designated period of time. Sometimes these are also referred to as "word sprints."

How does it work?

Write as much as you're able to today, and when you're done, leave a comment in this post about how the day went. You can share how many words you wrote, stumbling blocks, a favorite line you wrote, whatever you want!

You can also start mini word wars in the comments section of this blog, or on the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. (If you apply to join, leave me a comment on the blog so I can get you approved.)

The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we write. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the war goes on!


How long does it last?

This word war began Monday and will end Friday night. It's a come-and-go, write-when-you-can style of war, so it's never too late to join, and you don't have to participate every day. 

How is your word war going? Share in the comments.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 2017 Word War: Day Two

Jill here. It's day TWO of our August word war.

How goes it?

As I mentioned last month, I'm doing things backwards right now. I'm in the middle of a major rewrite on King's War (Kinsman Chronicles, book three), and I'm cutting words. My editor would like me to cut at least 50,000 words from my 194,000-word story.

(☉_☉)

But I've been working very hard, chip-chip-chipping away at this beast. I've cut just over 15,000 words so far and I still have a ways to go. I'm also at the Oregon Christian Writers' Conference this week (early bird class by Michael Hauge and evening keynotes by Frank Peretti!), so I'm sneaking away each day to make sure I get in my WORD-CUT-WAR time.





What's a word war? 

A word war is when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most words in a designated period of time. Sometimes these are also referred to as "word sprints."

How does it work?

Write as much as you're able to today, and when you're done, leave a comment in this post about how the day went. You can share how many words you wrote, stumbling blocks, a favorite line you wrote, whatever you want!

You can also start mini word wars in the comments section of this blog, or on the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. (If you apply to join, leave me a comment on the blog so I can get you approved.)

The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we write. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the war goes on!


How long does it last?

This word war began yesterday and will end Friday night. It's a come-and-go, write-when-you-can style of war, so it's never too late to join, and you don't have to participate every day. 

How is your word war going? Share in the comments.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 2017 Word War: Day One

Jill here. Our last summer word war starts NOW!




What's a word war? 

A word war is when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most words in a designated period of time. Sometimes these are also referred to as "word sprints."

How does it work?

Write as much as you're able to today, and when you're done, leave a comment in this post about how the day went. You can share how many words you wrote, stumbling blocks, a favorite line you wrote, whatever you want!

You can also start mini word wars in the comments section of this blog, or on the Go Teen Writers Community Facebook group. (If you apply to join, leave me a comment on the blog so I can get you approved.)

The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we write. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the war goes on!


How long does it last?

This word war begins today and will end Friday night. It's a come-and-go, write-when-you-can style of war, so it's never too late to join, and you don't have to participate every day. 

I'll be working hard with you today, though I'm still cutting words from my slightly-too-epic epic fantasy.

What are you working on?

Friday, August 11, 2017

How has your response to criticism evolved?

Hey all! Shannon here.

So, did you do it? Did you start the new school year?

We did. My kids started back this week and though the weather hasn't quite figured it out, FALL IS COMING.

That means next week's word war is the last showdown of the summer here at Go Teen Writers! Just like the previous two, it'll run Monday through Friday, and is meant to be a fun, come-and-go kind of event where we can encourage each other as we write. 

You should write with us! Inigo would.


As we near the end of our summer panels, I'm curious about your response to today's question. It's a topic every single one of us will address, again and again, throughout our career. 

How has your response to criticism evolved?


Shannon Dittemore
I have more perspective now than I did when I first started writing. It’s so easy to take everything personal and there are lots of mean people out there to make even the most confident writer gun-shy. But the truth is, we need a critical eye and if we can find it in beta readers and agents and editors who genuinely care about us and our careers, we’re blessed. Considerate critique will make us better and will prepare us to deal with the more mean-spirited reviewers out there.

And while I know those things to be true, it's still painful to hear negative things about my stories. These days, I'm able to filter through the feedback for the stuff that will make me better, but my stomach clenches every time I send my story out to be read--even by friends. In fact, even good feedback can mess me up. I get lost in turns of phrase and what someone DIDN'T say about my book. It just goes to show how screwed up it is to write for other people's approval. If you're able to continue writing after receiving criticism, you just might make it out there.


Stephanie Morrill
When I was a teen writer, I used to print out chapters of my book and give them to my friends “for their honest opinion.” But what I truly meant was, “Please read this and tell me that you think it’s great, and that I’m great, and that I’m totally going to be a famous author!” 

One time when I did this, a friend read the first few lines, rolled her eyes and called my book romantic garbage, only not in G-rated language. We then wrote angry notes back and forth to each other in which she told me that she didn’t think I had the talent to be an author. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to convince that her my work was original and creative, which was stupid for a lot of reasons.

When I couldn’t convince her of my talent, I vowed that I would prove her wrong some day, and that I would never show anyone my work ever again.

This was my first tussle with criticism. It was a deep wound that took years to heal, but I’m very grateful for it now.

While I did eventually start showing people my writing, I was much smarter about who I chose and my own motivations. I wait until I have done several rounds of edits, and I wait until I truly want to know what someone else thinks of it. 

The other thing I’ll point out is that growing defensive when someone criticizes our writing is as normal as breathing. We all do it. I kept trying to tell my friend all the reasons she was wrong, and that was a waste of time. Glennon Doyle Melton says it this way in her fabulous article Three Rules for Surviving a Creative Life, “Art is a big girl. Bigger than we are. So for eight years, I have never spent my limited time or energy defending a piece of my writing. Even when my work is misunderstood, even when I’ve felt attacked, even when I wanted to fire back at somebody so bad that my fingers ached and I had to take deep breaths—I didn’t sit down and argue.”

I have a long way to go still, but I’m getting better at not trying to be my art’s lawyer or armed guard.

Jill Williamson
It probably hasn’t evolved enough. I don’t set out to look at reviews anymore. But people constantly tag me to come and read the reviews they wrote of my books, and my publisher will email me professional reviews from Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal, so it’s impossible not to read those. I have learned to read criticism with a critical eye. I can tell right away if someone has an agenda, and those reviews I pretty much ignore. I scan for both positive and negative information and try and quickly discern what, if anything, I need to take from it. And I try and focus on the person behind the review. Life is all about relationships, so I try to comment or like those reviews in which people sought me out. And if someone tagged me and wrote a mean review, I ignore it. Everyone has the right to free speech, and people use that well. But there is no law that says we need to stand on a bow and let people pelt us with tomatoes. We can turn our backs and walk away with our heads held high. And we can also choose not to engage, because it does no good at all to argue with a reviewer or try and defend ourselves. The best we can do in those situations is to be silent.

Now it's your turn. Tell us, how do you respond to criticism? Has your response evolved throughout your journey?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Do You Believe In Your Writing?



Hello, Go Teen Writers! We're doing Q & A panels this summer. We answer a question, then pass it on to you. Please share your answer in the comments so we can all learn from each other.

Today we have a question that is sometimes hard to answer honestly aloud, but I think you'll see from the answers is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We all struggle in the area of self-confidence.





Do you believe in your writing?


Jill Williamson
Sometimes. 

This goes back to that question about being a confident or an anxious writer. It’s all about how we view ourselves. It's about our identity and how we define that identity. Where we find our worth. I have some deep wounds from my childhood that formed lies that have made me insecure about a lot of things. Oddly enough, I’m also extremely hardworking and stubborn. So while I might doubt myself on a daily (hourly?) basis, I continually dive headfirst into the fire anyway. That’s who I am. I need to be creating. It gives me joy. I think it goes back to my tendency to daydream. For me, my fantasy is safe. Nothing can hurt me there. This makes it sometimes difficult to live in the real world, since the real world doesn’t work like a fantasy world. People don't behave the way I want them to in the real world. Still, while I believe in myself, and I believe I “can” do anything I set my mind to, I know that my identity is not defined by this. So, yes, I believe that I am a good writer. I have worked hard to learn how. That is truth. And whether or not I sell millions of copies has no bearing on that truth. Whether or not I ever sold a novel would have had no bearing on that. My writing is good because I have put in the time to practice and learn. That is a fact. And I cannot judge my skill by other people's opinions of what I create. I can only judge each book by whether or not I have done my best.



Shannon Dittemore
Yes! All the time. Except when I don’t. We all go through ups and downs emotionally, professionally. But I’ve never put out anything I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make an adjustment if given the opportunity after the fact, or rewrite portions of former stories, but I believe that writing is a journey and I don’t want to begrudge the stops along the way.




Stephanie Morrill

Some of it, yes. Sometimes people say, “I’m reading this book of yours!” and my brain instantly goes to all the things I know are wrong with that book. And nothing brings out my insecurities like sending a few chapters to my agent or editor. 

For the most part, though, I believe in what I have written. I think it helps that I don’t ask my writing to do a whole lot. By which I mean, I don’t ask my novels to change lives or inspire girls or make a difference. Of course I love it when I hear that they have, but I don’t put that expectation on my novels. I just want to tell a good story.


Now it's your turn. Do you believe in your writing?


Monday, August 7, 2017

What's something you keep in your writing space that's meaningful to you?


Happy Monday, writers!

First, I want to share this really cool video about Warren Adler. Warren Adler is a bestselling author of over 50 novels, and is best known for his novel War of the Roses. This video is about his journey and persistence as a writer, and I think it'll give you a zip of inspiration this week. You can find more info about Mr. Adler by clicking here.

Also, next week is our last word war of the summer! Just like the previous two, it'll run Monday through Friday, and is meant to be a fun, come-and-go kind of event where we can encourage each other as we write.

Our panel question for today is, "What's something you keep in your writing space that's meaningful to you?"




Shannon Dittemore
I have a teeny tiny sparkly frame next to my computer screen and it keeps a very important reminder close at hand: Make them care. If I can do that—if I can make readers care about my characters, about their plight—I’ve done my job. And I take my job very seriously.




Stephanie Morrill
A copy of the book Arthur Writes a Story. My daughter brought this home from her school library when she was in first grade, and when I read it to her, I cried at the end. Arthur is writing a story as a class assignment. He knows exactly what he wants to write, and so he does. But then his sister says it's boring, so he rewrites it to be more unusual. Another friend says his story takes place in outer space, so Arthur rewrites his to be set on the moon. One friend is putting in jokes, another is going really deep with research, and so on. Arthur keeps tweaking his story so that it fits everybody else's opinions about what's best, and by the end, his story about how he got his dog has turned into a country western song and dance about an elephant on a different planet.

The reason the story hit me so hard the first time I read it is that I was writing The Lost Girl of Astor Street. I was waaaaay out of my comfort zone, and I kept leaning on others to tell me that I was making the right choices with the story. There's a time and place for that, of course, but I really needed to trust myself and believe in the story the way I had envisioned it instead of seeking approval.


I bought a copy for my office, and it sits where I can see it (unless one of my kids runs off with it) as a reminder to trust my vision for the story, and to stop hustling for approval and permission from others.


Jill Williamson
I have a framed quote by author E. B. White (who wrote Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little) on my wall that a friend gave me as a Christmas gift years back. It is meaningful because it was such a thoughtful gift, but also because it reminds me that I am loved. We writers can feel very isolated sitting in front of a computer all day, even when interacting with people online. We need face-to-face friendships with people, whether they are other writers or not.




What about you? Do you have anything you keep near your writing space to remind you of something important?