Contemplating the Writing Life with Writer Rochelle Deans

 

 

Hi Folks! 

Welcome Back 

To the Story of the Writer 

Interview Series

 

 

 

 

 

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History has reaped the countless benefits of those who tell stories. Of those who wield the untold power of the written word embedded in print, as well as the heart. Their word transcends even the ultimate barrier of time, as if their prose seeks out a soul for a tear, dollop of joy, a praise or a cheer.

What is the path one takes to become writer? Everyone has a different story. What laid the tracks before them? No two paths are the same. What inspires this particular breed of humanity? Come let us see–The story of the writer.

 

 

 

 

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EVERYONE PLEASE WELCOME

ROCHELLE DEANS!

 

 

 

 

Rochelle Deans

 

 

Rochelle is a freelance editor, author, lover of quotes and the smell of real books. She has written Harry Potter fanfiction, three novellas, a short novel and currently working on her third manuscript. I personally know Rochelle as a fellow writer through our AWESOME Facebook group, Wordplayers. Which was created and supported  by none other than the international bestselling Jedi Master K.M. Weiland.

 

 

 

You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or
what inspired you?

I’ve been a writer for pretty much my whole life. But I was exclusively a songwriter and poet in middle school and high school. I actually had a friend who signed my senior yearbook with something about how she knew I’d publish a novel someday and I laughed and told her I didn’t have the patience to write something that long. I graduated college with a degree in writing and literature and some AWFUL short stories to my name. It took me a few years to recover from the pressure of school (and realizing that I wasn’t a natural-born genius storyteller), but I decided I wanted to give novel-writing a try. So I did what any (in)sane person would do, and I turned to fandom. I knew from the aforementioned short stories that I wasn’t good at coming up with dynamic, believable characters or putting them into dire situations. So I thought maybe if I used some characters I already knew were dynamic and believable, they would remain dynamic and believable, and I wouldn’t be so scared to hurt them, since they weren’t mine. I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction for two years, graduating from 1,000-word stories about the main characters to, eventually, a 50,000-word story that took place 1,000 years in the future and involved entirely original characters. Then, finally, I felt ready to write the book I wanted to, which was a YA dystopian novel. That was two books ago. I’m currently working on a YA contemporary.

Wow that’s quite a wealth of experience there. I’d love to see your songs, poems and YA writings! 

 

 

 

 

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What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

To write sentences as beautiful as John Green’s are in a plot that keeps readers turning pages. On the level of “what do I want to accomplish for myself in this career?” I would love to be able to do even a small book tour to schools and book stores and maybe even get shortlisted for some award. That would be awesome. But obviously, those aren’t reasons why I write. Mainly, I feel convicted to write stories about people struggling with their faith. Young adulthood is a time when so many kids begin to question the faith of their parents and the way they’ve grown up, needing to move into a faith of their own. Usually, this time also involves things that contradict the Sunday School answers we grow up with. So my goal in writing is to ask the hard questions and try to provide answers. Usually those answers are bittersweet.

That’s great you know what you want to write and who your target audience is. Not everyone has that you know. Young adulthood is definitely a time of trial for a lot of young people struggling with their faith amongst other things.

 

 

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“The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.” -David Schlosser

 

 

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What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Pregnancy, young babies, and a day job. Most notably, I had the idea for my most recently completed MS in the summer of 2013. I started collecting ideas for a story in which everyone knows the day they’re going to die and got ready to write it for NaNoWriMo that November. Unfortunately for the book but fortunately for my life as a whole, in October I found out I was pregnant with my oldest child, and it turns out that morning sickness and trying to write 50,000 words in a month while working a full-time job aren’t really compatible. Surprisingly, I did manage to write 42,000 words for that book in 2014, when my daughter was between 4.5 and 5.5 months old, and finished it in the summer of 2015.

Rochelle that’s AMAZING. Keep writing! I really like the idea that you mentioned.  

 

 

 

 

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You fail only if you stop writing – Ray Bradbury 

 

 

 

What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE).

One of the main things that keeps me motivated is my writer friends. Two of my critique partners are 2016 debuts, and seeing their success spurs me on. They are awesome cheerleaders, keeping me on track and promising me that my stories have potential.

We have the same motivations! Having great writer friends and being fueled by their successes is quite invigorating. Birds of the same feather tend to stick together. We’re not alone! 

 

 

 

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What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

My biggest antagonist is honestly laziness. Writing books is a lot of work. Some days (*cough* like today *cough*) it’s easier to stay in my pajamas and watch my kids play instead of doing the hard work of writing, revising, and rewriting a story worth telling. Now that I work from home, it should be much more doable to get things done. But I’m not the kind of person that can be trusted with a lot of free time.

I can completely relate to this struggle. It definitely requires discipline and character to whip out a complete manuscript. Sometimes its hard being your own drill sergeant. 

 

 

 

 

Drill sergeant with moustache

 

 

 

 

 

Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects, and what would you say to inspire them?

Honestly, if someone would have told me in 2012 when I started writing my dystopian novel that I’d be sitting in 2016 working on my third book and yet I was still agentless and book-deal-less, I probably would have given up. I was so sure my first novel would sell and do well that I actually made plans for when I’d quit my day job based on when I was going to query it. (This is me laughing at my past self.) Still, there isn’t much I’d change about the past four years. Yeah, I’m working on my third manuscript, but in the meantime I’ve had two beautiful children, made some awesome writing friends, learned a lot, and, to my biggest surprise, kept getting ideas for stories. Writing is HARD, and it’s a long game. To anyone who wants to quit, I would just say, “If you want to keep writing, even just a little bit, keep at it. Keep practicing, even if the writing is only for you. You never know what could happen one day. From what I’ve seen, the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace… until. When you hit that ‘until’ things start happening so fast you forget to breathe. So enjoy the slowness, enjoy getting to know your writing style, and especially enjoy learning, because if you don’t enjoy learning, there is no way to enjoy writing as a career.”

YES. This is great info. Totally soaking in this statement. I agree, writing is more like a marathon than an all out sprint.  Thanks so much for sharing!

 

 

 

Thanks Rochelle!!

 

 

You can connect with Rochelle on twitter at @RochelleDeans, or on her website at Rochelledeans.com.

 

 

 

 

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“…enjoy the slowness, enjoy getting to know your writing style, and especially enjoy learning, because if you don’t enjoy learning, there is no way to enjoy writing as a career.” ~Rochelle Deans

 

 

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The six golden rules of writing: 

READ, READ, READ, AND WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. 

-Ernest Gaines

 

 

 

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~I will write my way into another life. – Ann Patchett

 

 

 

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Writing is such communicable beauty; a mutual flight of feeling between author and reader. -Benjamin Thomas

 

 

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“Writers aren’t exactly people….They’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

 

 

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Whatever you do….keep writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

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Discussing the Reading Experience with Writer & Blogger Wendy Greene

 

 

WELCOME BACK

TO THE FORENSIC LENSES 

INTERVIEW SERIES

 

 

Bringing you the best of the reading experience. What’s yours?

 

 

 

Forensic

 

 

 

 

“Finishing a good book is like leaving a good friend” -William Feather

 

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“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting” ~Edmund Burke

 

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This series is all about reflecting on the reading experience. When we read and enjoy a great book, there’s so many things happening in our brains! We need time to reflect and digest what we just ate, then fully appreciate the beauty. 

 

 

 

~When you read a good book what do your eyes really see?

 

 

Bambino con lente d'ingrandimento - Boy with a magnifying glass

 

 

 

Well, we all see a little differently. Let’s introduce today’s guest! 

WELCOME WENDY GREENE

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy

 

 

Wendy is an aspiring writer, successful bookworm, a fellow blogger and follower of Christ.

 

 

 

What were your childhood experiences with reading?

I actually hated reading when I was younger! I enjoyed small books once and a while, but I never really got into it until I was probably in 5th grade. I was in the library and randomly started reading the Dear America series. I read every single one they had in about six months and fell in love with historical fiction that later branched out into more genres.

WOW! I find that so fascinating. You once were a person who hated reading, then somehow you became a complete BOOKWORM. The impact the Dear America series had on you is nothing less than impressive.

 

 

 

 

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Which books influenced you the most as a child?

Of course, the Dear Americas were so influential in my life as well as Little House on the Prairie. But I remember, very distinctly, the first book that made me sob. It was titled Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch. I would say it traumatized me more than influenced me, though XD It was a historical fiction about a girl who immigrated to Ellis Island to work in a clothing factory in New York. Horrific events occurred (but I won’t spoil it for you ;)) and the realization that it based on actual events rattled me to the core. Even though that experience hurt, it made me realize the power of words and how a collection of pages can change someone.

Words are powerful. I love to see how the writings of others have affected us. This never ceases to amaze me.

 

 

What’s your favorite genre to read? (it could be plural) and what do you enjoy most about them?

As of this moment, I really love science fiction. I hadn’t read a lot of that genre before, but I just love the mix of science and whimsy. Although, fantasy is a longtime love for me and the possibilities of that genre are ENDLESS. But also historical fiction. ALL OF THEM, PRETTY MUCH.

I love science fiction and fantasy as well. Hard to choose one eh?

 

 

 

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Who are your top 5 favorite characters of all time?

Ooooh, that’s SO HARD. I’d have to say Percy Jackson from the Percy Jackson series is definitely up there along with Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, Aslan from Narnia, Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, and Wolf from the Lunar Chronicles.

Bilbo is lovable and Wolf from the Lunar Chronicle is a pretty cool guy. 

 

 

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~There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates loot on treasure island – Walt Disney

 

 

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What is it about them that draws you?

I love quirky personalities. Especially in Percy and Anne, they have a significant amount of spunk.They’re also brave without realizing it and simply view themselves as normal people; nothing particularly special. With Aslan, of course, he’s such a strong character and I’ve admired him for a long time. Bilbo is basically me if I were a hobbit, so there’s that. Wolf is just so awesome. He’s so violent yet sweet and I just loved him. ^_^

This is a nice handful of heroes! Sounds like they all have had a particular affect on you as a reader. 

 

 

Do you enjoy character driven books more or plot driven?

I definitely believe that good characters can make up for a bad plot. If I can connect and love a character, I tend to ignore the massive plot holes that stand in the way. With that said, I love a good, intense, well-written storyline. So, both?

Good answer! 

 

 

 

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Have you ever cried while reading? If so, what were you experiencing?

YES. I cry in books All. The. Time. Sometimes the author will describe an emotion in such a beautifully rich way that touches me so deep I can’t help but cry. Other times I just feel the pain of the characters or relate something to my own life that moves me to tears. Oh, and there are also the copious amounts of character deaths I sob through…

Yes, this is truly a special moment when an author evokes tears in the reader.

 

 

 

 

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AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME…

 

As a reader what are your top 5 pet peeves?

Insta-love. Masculine female characters. Dog-eared pages. Stupid parents/villains. Pointless deaths.

I always enjoy seeing what irks people the most in books. Good things to avoid when writing!

 

 

 

 

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When you read what are you seeking most?

Sometimes that depends on why I’m reading. Sometimes I delve into a book to escape from the world, other times I want to laugh or think. Sometimes I read as a writer. Reading is the tool I use the most when trying to develop my own writing style. If that’s the case, I read to glean information on style, story structure etc. But overall, I read because it’s so unique and beautiful. It gives me a glimpse of a universe unexplored and allows me to become someone else. I read because it changes me.

You just elicited the wow factor!!! That’s probably one of the best answers I’ve seen yet.

 

 

Wow Surprised Word Astonished Surprising

 

 

 

 

What are your top reads of 2016?

Oh dear…such a hard question! Number one would probably be Scarlett by Marissa Meyer. I also loved Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Storm Siren by Mary Weber, and What He Must Be by Vodie Baucham (there are so many more, but there ya go XD)

I enjoyed Scarlett too, but my favorite of that series was Cress. Great choices!

 

 

Thank you so much for interviewing me, I had so much fun! =D

 

 

THANKS SO MUCH WENDY!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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~The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. –Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

~Nothing transforms the mind like a good book -Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Author Interview with Karen A. Wyle

 

 

 

WELCOME BACK TO THE STORY OF THE WRITER SERIES

EVERYONE PLEASE WELCOME

~KAREN A. WYLE~

 

 

 

 

 

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Karen is an Appellate attorney, author of several novels, picture books, a mother of two, a photographer, political junkie and a Indiana Hoosier fan. 

 

 

WELCOME KAREN!

 

 

 

 

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*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

I wanted to be a novelist since at least the age of nine. I can’t remember exactly why, but my family greatly valued literature and education.

 

Those are very good values to have in family! 

 

 

 

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If a story is in you it has to come out -William Faulkner

 

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*What’s your GOAL  in becoming a writer?

(a) To create interesting characters with whom readers can empathize, and embed them in thought-provoking stories. (b) To have people read what I write.

I share the same goals as you. To create interesting characters that people care read and care about. Easier said than done though!

 

 

 

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*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

When I was younger: lack of anything particular to say, difficulty getting words to flow, and lack of confidence. Now: nothing.

Impressive progression here. My main problem right now is completing my first project.

 

 

 

*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

Unlike the world in which I formed and then (for decades) abandoned my ambition, the current literary era allows authors to publish without the approval of gatekeepers or the investment of large sums of money. That means I’ve been able to find readers who have enjoyed and cared about my work – and that keeps me motivated.

 

Finding those who truly care about your is one of the greatest motivations!  But also, as you said, being able to publish your work is critical. 

 

 

 

 

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                                                      Your readers

 

 

 

 

*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

When I was younger, besides the obstacles already mentioned, I encountered a last straw in the form of a teacher (graduate student teaching undergraduates) who casually mentioned in public that I did something well for someone who “[wasn’t] a born writer.” Through years of failing to find the right medium, the right genre, or the right story, my lifelong belief that I was indeed and exactly a “born writer” had kept me going. That moment was my excuse to give up writing fiction for several decades. (About one decade into that span, I found a few of her books in a bookstore. I am not generally someone who hates, but if she had walked in at that moment, I might have assaulted her. And I will admit enjoying some schadenfreude when I discovered, perhaps three years ago, that none of her books appear to be in print.)

 

I hear this from time to time about someone in faculty. How someone had a negative impact on a potential future author always surprises me.

 

 

 

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I find your goals—rather disturbing, young Jedi…

 

 

 

*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

Many writers still feel the need to “be” published, aka traditionally published, and give up after multiple unsuccessful attempts to find a publisher.

 

Many writers continually second-guess themselves, self-editing constantly, which greatly slows their output. National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo or Nano), an annual online event which challenges writers to complete a very rough draft of a novel at least 50,000 words long within the month of November, is a great way to overcome this tendency. At that pace, there’s no time to self-edit.

 

They’re are many potholes on the road to publication. Not to mention that that road is always under construction.

 

 

 

Potholes warning sign.
Illustration of the writing journey

 

 

 

 

*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

If that writer still wants to write and is unhappy with having given up, I’d suggest giving NaNoWriMo (see above) a try. There’s no commitment involved: you can dive in with minimal preparation and see what the next day or two may bring. That’s how I started what became my first novel, Twin-Bred, and I’m now preparing my seventh novel for publication.

 

NaNoWriMo is an excellent way to begin! That’s what gave me a boost last year in my project.  2016 NaNoWriMo is just around the corner!

 

 

 

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“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” -Steve Jobs

 

 

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Connect with Karen on her website at Karenawyle.net, on twitter at @WordsmithWyle and find her books on Amazon at Karen Wyle.  

 

Get a glimpse of some of her writings below!

 

 

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Twin-Bred Collection - smaller for distribution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reach ebook cover - smaller for reviews etc

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING KAREN!

 

 

 

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” -Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

 

 

 Someone out there is waiting for your next book, keep writing-Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

The Core Elements of Storytelling and Writing Great Fantasy with Marya Miller

 

 

 

Please welcome  a talented and inspirational fantasy author, 

editor, copywriter and ghostwriter 

MARYA MILLER

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marya forest

 

 

 

Welcome Marya! 

 

Marya is a Fantasy writer; copywriter; ghostwriter. Harpist. Scot. Lover of forests, mountains and horses.Completing the Dragonish Trilogy. Marya is also a fellow Wordplayer on K.M Weiland’s Facebook group.

Find her on twitter @Marya_Miller and check out her awesome website Marya Miller Writer.

 

 

Somebody roll out the red carpet!!!!

 

 

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*Are you originally from Ontario Canada?

I’m originally from Glasgow, Scotland. We emigrated to Ontario when I was twelve, at the start of Grade Nine. It took me a LONG time to get used to Canada, but then I discovered Algonquin Park; plus I moved up to Northern Ontario four years ago and I love it up here: There are actually little mountains around Thunder Bay, and it stays light till 11pm in summer, the way it did in Scotland. So now I have the best of both worlds.

Here’s a shout out to all the awesome writers in CANADA!  

 

 

 

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*What is it about forests you enjoy?

The peace. The light. The scents. The wind rushing through the trees. And the fact they can also be a little bit haunting, and scary.

Being in a forest always makes me think something magical is going to happen. I’m going to see elves at any moment, round the next bend in the forest trail. Or bears. Or both.

That would be quite a sight—elves and bears rounding the corner. Let’s hope the bears would be nice. 

 

 

 

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*How long have you been a writer? 

Since I could write. I wrote my first “novel” when I was eight, a gripping drama about my teddy bear being abducted by two evil henchmen called Grimm and Ghastly; both wearing rather Victorian-looking top hats draped with black crape. (At eight, you think that is highly original.)  I actually still have it–complete with illustrations. 😉

I wrote four young adult/children’s fantasy novels in my twenties, and gave up too early in their rejection cycles. One almost got published by Scholastic–but my editor left and the new editor wasn’t interested.

My first published fantasy story was “Deus Ex Machina” in the early eighties, when computers were just being birthed. It’s very dated now–I wrote about (*gasp*) a sentient computer that started reading the books it stored. That story got me a job at TPUG Magazine (computers) and I was promoted to Assistant Editor and Managing Editor there. I’ve worked in various editorial and production positions at various magazines; both salaried and freelance. I had a stint as General Manager of “The Independent News”. And I invented my copywriting job when I ended up in a wheelchair, trapped in my house, back in 2008, when I ended up having to support my husband. I have been with the same major client now since 2009, and really enjoy it–but it kept me away from fiction till last year, when I joined Holly Lisle’s free “Flash Fiction” course and the fiction bug came back, full force.

Wow, it’s amazing you have that much writing experience, and your first novel sounds great! I’d totally read that.

 

 

 

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*What’s are the best things about being a copywriter?

The chance to help people–and I’ve enjoyed my clients’ successes too. I also like the anonymity. I am actually pretty shy and don’t like being in the public eye. I’ve always liked being “behind the scenes”. Plus it allows me to work from home.

The thing I like most about copywriting (apart from the flexibility and the ability to work at home) — it teaches you discipline. There are always deadlines: There is no such thing as writer’s block and you learn to produce and be efficient about it. I’ve found this enormously helpful in my fiction writing. 

This sounds it helps produce the solid character we all need to be efficient.

 

 

 

*What’s it like being a ghostwriter?

Very similar to my days as a magazine editor. It’s all about long hours, research, proofing, deadlines and deadlines. When I hear people I admire raving about something I wrote (not knowing I wrote it), it’s a very weird feeling.

Sounds like hard work! You’re doing all the heavy lifting, but no one knows your’re the muscle behind scenes. 

 

 

 

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                               The heavy lifting of ghostwriting

 

 

 

*You have an awesome website! You stated “Communication is my passion” Can you elaborate on this?

Thank you. Communication has been the common thread running through my life, right from when I was little. I came from a dysfunctional family and a rough neighborhood. I always found myself in the middle at home and school, doing my best to get people to understand each other and be kind. I think there’s a lot of loneliness and disconnection in the world. I would love it if my stories made someone forget loneliness and feel connected while reading one of my books.

I love this because it’s so true. That’s a great aim for your books!

 

 

 

*Do you have professional storytelling experience? 

I’m a graduate of the Storyteller’s School of Toronto and participated during the eighties and early nineties in several Storytelling Festivals and ran workshops. I was also lucky enough to have the great Irish storyteller, Alice Kane, as my teacher. She became a dear friend and the most moving milestone in my career was Alice choosing to tell a story I wrote for her, “Bonnyton Moor”, as the final story on the last CD she ever made before she passed away. That too was a very weird feeling.

My father and big brother, Stephen, were both amazing storytellers, and I got my love of stories from them. In addition to telling stories, Stephen also read us just about every fairy book in existence, his favorites being the Andrew Lang series. My sister and I still remember gorgeous illustrations by the likes of Edmund Dulac, Kai Nielsen and N. C. Wyeth.

And, of course, the Rupert Bear annuals.

Wow your experience is impressive!  Would love to pick your brain more about the storytelling experience. Perhaps at a future date.

 

 

 

 

*What are the most enjoyable aspects of being a writer?

Being able to write out of deep values you hold, but being able to have fun too. Being able to lose yourself in another world, in your characters and cultures. Stories are nothing more than a way of making sense of real life, so you have to be brutally honest with yourself when you’re writing. Every flaw you have screams out at you from your writing–and I’m not talking about technique. You need to be brave and face yourself, otherwise you have wimpy, shallow characters. So in a way, it’s like therapy–which, in itself, is not much fun, but it’s worth it. You feel like you’re growing–particularly important when most of your life is lived between four walls. I’m never lonely when I’m writing. 

I also love the way characters take on a life of their own and sometimes totally upset your plot structure and march your book off in a completely unexpected direction. I don’t always let them steer me off course–but most times, they’re usually right.

I also love the fact that I can write non-fiction as my “day job”–my bread-and-butter–and slip away into the forests of Dragonish when my workday is done. It’s having the best of both worlds.

YES, love it. This resonates deeply, and has a  lot of wisdom to it.

 

 

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“I’m never lonely when I’m writing.” -Marya Miller

 

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*Give us a summary of your current WIP or most recent publication.

My flash fiction anthology from the world of my upcoming Dragonish series–“Tales of Mist and Magic”–is about to make its debut. (There’s a sample story from “Tales of Mist and Magic”, plus a bonus story you can download that won’t appear anywhere else, on my Original Fiction web page: http://maryamillerca.ipage.com/dragonish )

My last story published was “Block Magic” (no, that’s not a spelling mistake), which appeared on Day 23 in the Indie Author’s Advent Calendar. Before that, my last mainstream print published piece was “Too Happy to Die” in the anthology, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog’s Life”.

I’m sure you have tons stories waiting to be revealed, keep writing!

 

*In your opinion what are the elements of a great fantasy book?

To me, the characters are the heart and soul of the best fantasy books. They make or break them–if I don’t care about at least one character deeply, I won’t invest in the journey. In addition to this, there has to be something that makes me feel that there’s a magic door or curtain somewhere that will transport me to a world where magic is real. You can find those doors in all the greatest fantasy novels: Not literally, but you step through and suspend disbelief; and it’s both much safer than the world you’re in and more terrifying; and infinitely more beautiful.

There were moments in my childhood–for example, when I was three and my big brother saved up his pocket money and took me and my sister to Rouken Glen. We sat in a forest in a hovering mist of bluebells. He put a bluebell flower on his pinkie and told me it was a fairy’s hat, and I totally thought that was real! The beauty of that forest, the magic of the sunshine; the feeling that wonderful things could happen any minute–that’s what fantasy novels are all about for me. To give it a bit of context: We traveled to that forest on a tram, coming from the heart of Glasgow, which was grey and grimy in those days–there were still coal fires. We lived on the edge of the Gorbals, and life was pretty grim, so for my brother to transport me to this magical world… well. I can’t describe it. It was my first forest, and I was hooked.

My brother died when I was seven, and I’ve been trying to get back to that world ever since.

So for me fantasy novels are all about loss and hope; being surrounded by darkness and finding a way out through a combination of core values, courage–and magic. And if there are dragons, wizards and elves to reassure you that you’re not alone, so much the better.

Very touching story! 

 

 

 

 

“To me, the characters are the heart and soul of the best fantasy books. They make or break them–if I don’t care about at least one character deeply, I won’t invest in the journey.” ~Marya Miller

 

 

 

 

 

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                                        Invest in the journey….

 

 

 
*Can you give us 3 critical components of storytelling? (you can list more if desired)

Universality, truth–and not getting in the way of the story.

A good story is universal. It needs to make people care about the outcome. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know that world–you need to be able to relate to the main character’s journey, care about it. A good story has to be true–even when it’s fiction. Pick a story with all these elements, and don’t get in the way of the story when you’re telling it–and you’ll be a great storyteller, whether you’re writing it or telling it.

EPIC. That’s great! I love absolutely love this. You need to put this on a t-shirt.

 

 

 

 

*What are you experiencing right now in your writing journey?

What I’m experiencing right now is excitement. I’m living for and through my Dragonish series, and I wish there were thirty-six hours in a day and I could spend them all writing. I feel that after years with fiction on the back burner, I’m finally reaching my zone. My own story arc is becoming clear, and the goal’s in sight.

Right now, I’m thrilled to be experiencing the wisdom of other writers through writer’s groups on Facebook. I took a smattering of real-world writing courses in the past, and for the most part, with the exception of one single course, I found them discouraging. I came away with the feeling “I may as well give up fiction: Everyone else is so much better at it than me”. But online groups like KM Weiland’s “Wordplayers”, Dave Lynch’s ePub Scene and the forums I’m on in Holly Lisle’s site have totally broken that curse. There is such generosity and professionalism in these groups from writers at all stages of the game: I’ve had feedback, inspiration, encouragement–and I’ve learned a lot.

I think you need real feedback and real interaction from other writers who understand the process. Without it, you’re stuck in a vacuum. That’s the place where all storytellers tend to wither and die.

This is so encouraging! I’m so glad you found a good source of inspiration and encouragement. One less storyteller in the graveyard. This is a HUGE reason why I started conducting these interviews in the first place. 

 

 

 

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*What’s your GOAL now in this stage of your career?

My goal is to be able to work full time on my own writing–not that I don’t enjoy copywriting, my day job: But for that I need to be three people! I want to see the Dragonish series in print before I die.

You’ll do it, Marya. I know you will. 

 

*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Nothing stops me from completing client projects. I owe it to my clients to give them #1 priority, so I do.

With my fiction, though (1) literally not enough hours in the day is my biggest obstacle–that, and (2) being completely intimidated by the technology end of uploading books to Amazon. (3) I would also like to invest in some professional editing on my books before I release them to the world–I need to increase my income first for that to happen.

(That being said, the nice thing about obstacles is that it’s fun looking for ways around them.)

I hope one day you can be a full time writer with your work as the top priority! 

 

 

 

*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

What keeps me motivated is caring about my world and my characters. I want them to have voices, to be heard. I want to bring some magic back into the world, so that people can tackle the darkness safely, through the pages of the Dragonish stories. And my characters are fun to write–Granny Maberly, Ushguk, Anno, Morwen, Leith–I love them all. And a few of them are pretty funny. Though whatever you do, don’t tell Granny that!

I love that you want your characters to have a voice and be heard! That’s awesome!  

 

 

 

 

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             Give your characters a voice 

 

 

 

 

*What’s your main ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way of you accomplishing your goals? 

Wanting to be a better writer. Though I think ALL writers struggle with that. You have this wonderful, vibrant, rich story in your head, and you read what you’ve written; and you feel as if you’ve only captured a glimpse of it.

I think writing “better” or “good” can be quite elusive, just as it is deceptive. We should focus more on telling the story. No one ever feels good enough.

 

 

 
*Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?

I think a lot of writers give up because there’s no one in their corner to say “keep going”. They question the value of their stories. They don’t receive feedback. They start to feel like voices in the wilderness–you know; the old “if a tree falls in the forest, will anyone hear it scream?” In traditional publishing, the world I’m from–and I had an actual, professional background in editing and publishing–the odds are stacked so hugely against you as a fiction writer. There are many horror stories about publishers from even successful authors. It’s a world of rejection as routine; and if you’re accepted, that’s only the beginning of the obstacles. Plus many writers have people telling them what they SHOULD be doing instead of writing. It amazes me that writers keep going at all, if I’m honest.

But being isolated as a writer … that’s like standing up in a darkened auditorium and telling a story to a chair (which I’ve done, by the way). It’s like sending a transmission out into space and knowing the odds of anyone ever hearing it are a gazillion to none. When a story isn’t heard, it tends to wither and die.

WOW. This is therapeutic. There’s the matter of someone being in our corner, surviving rejection, and overcoming isolation. These are all very critical elements to our success. Thanks for sharing. 

 

 

 

 

 

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                   Every writer needs a cheerleader!

 

 

 

*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Your stories are important. They’re real. If you blow on all the stories that have withered and died, some of them will spark and come to life again–no matter how long they’ve lain in the darkness.

You are important. And the publishing community has changed, thanks to ePublishing and the internet. There’s never been a better time to be a writer! 

If you’re really feeling down or discouraged, read KM Weiland’s “Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration”. Join Holly Lisle’s free Flash Fiction community and get your confidence back sharing 500-700 word stories with an informed, encouraging and honest group. Take her “How to Think Sideways” course (or ANY of her courses. My favorite, besides HTTS, is “The Secret of Page-Turning Scenes”). If you’re stuck at the business end of writing, visit Joanna Penn’s site and read her books too.

These are three authors–KM Weiland, Joanna Penn and Holly Lisle–who inspire, not flatten. They share incredibly valuable knowledge born of real-world experience, obstacles and success. They’re like a good fantasy novel: They give you the weapons to tackle the monsters with, and teach you how to use them. They’ve got your back, and you can trust them. Plus they’re fun to read.

And do join a good writer’s group–one without ego; where the emphasis is on the writing, not the personalities.

Exceptional. This is very inspiring! Thanks so much! When I do these interviews, I’m the first to get inspired! THANK YOU. 

 

 

BONUS:

*Who are the best authors of the century?

That’s such a broad question, I’m not sure how to answer it.  All I can do is give you my own personal choice…

Ahhh, I’m going to get nailed for choice number one: JRR Tolkien. He’s my first love. In spite of what Peter Jackson and an ocean of imitators have done, you can’t beat Middle Earth.

I also love Terry Pratchett’s writing–his Discworld series in particular. He defies genre. He can go from low comedy to advanced philosophy in a blink–and it works.

Finally, John Bellairs; just for his book “The Face in the Frost”, which exuberantly defies every rule about adjectives and adverbs. It’s also the book I would memorize and become, if I was a character in Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”.

Yes–all fantasy, I know; but each of these three authors defied genre and they gave their worlds and characters unique voices. They wrote books that changed lives, healed wounds, comforted. They’re like old friends to me now, and I still reread them.

Lovely, simply lovely.

 

 

THANKS FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION MARYA!!!!

 

 

 

*******

 

There is no friend as loyal as a book ~Ernest Hemingway

 

 

*******

 

Somewhere there’s a book to be written, and somewhere there’s a book to be read. ~Benjamin Thomas

 

*******

 

 

When your eye hits the page there’s magic, staying magic. ~Benjamin Thomas 

 

 

 

 

The power of a great story is the remnant of character, keep writing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Author Interview: A Time with the Awesome Kylie Day

 

 

 

Story of the Writer Series

 

There’s a story behind every writer.  The author is not only a storyteller, they are a story. Let’s find out more about today’s guest, Kylie Day!

 

Welcome Kylie!

 

 

 

A word after a word

after a word, is power

– Margaret Atwood

 

 

 

 

 

Kylie Day

 

 

Kylie is a blogger, author, introvert, professional coffee addict, incurable reader, and apparently she sings in the shower.

Yay shower singing. I love shower singing. (beat-boxing is epic in the shower)

 

 

Let the show begin…

 

 

*You’re from Sweden, I think? What’s it like?

Yes, I currently live in Sweden. It’s not like living in a small county as Sweden has affected my writing. The internet gives everyone a chance at being international, no matter where you’re from or where you live, and I think that’s really exciting. Especially for writers who have the chance to reach millions of people with their written word (whether that’s actual books or blog posts).

Awesome.  I love the ability to be international. The opportunity to reach millions with our words is at our finger tips!

 

 

 

 

SWEDEN

 

 

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*What’s your genre?

I write non-fiction for writers, and then have a pen name for my fiction stories which are set in the fantasy genre.

I have all of Kylie’s Busy Author’s Guide books. They’re purposefully short and designed to get you back to what you love to do—writing!

 

 

 

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Kylie penned the The Busy Author’s Guide Box-Set 1: 4 books 

 

  • How to Outline Your Book with Pre-Outline questions

  • How to Outline Your Story with “What If” Questions

  • How to Get to Know Your Story’s World with Wordbuilding Questions

  • HOw to Get to Know Your Characters with Character Interviews

 

 

 

“A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.” -Vladimir Nabokov

 

 

 

 

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*You studied literature in college correct? If so l, tell us about your studies and what led you in this direction.

Yes, I’m still working on a Master’s Degree. My love for reading was what led me to study literature. Literature has always been a big part of my life so it wasn’t a difficult choice. And my studies have also given me the opportunity to develop my own writing skills because I’ve been given the opportunity to read and study works of fiction that I might’ve never thought to read before.

Kylie, I would love to pick your brain regarding your reading experience and what you’ve learned in literature. You’ll have to come back!

 

 

*What have you learned about the craft? (Don’t hold back let her rip!)

Wow, that’s a huge question, one that can take me hours to answer. But at the end of the day, what I’m most excited about having learned about writing is that the first draft is always crappy. The important thing is to get the story written. If you don’t get the first draft done, there is nothing to work with. And, honestly, the real work starts when the first draft is done. While that notion scared me a couple of years ago, it’s become a huge relief to me now. My first draft can be bad, really bad (I usually skip descriptions because I move so fast through the first draft), but I know that I can add that when revising the draft. So, instead of going back into the story every day, just to add descriptions I think are necessary, I skip that completely until I’ve finished the first draft. This way of writing has made it so much easier to finish my first drafts, something I struggled with a couple of years ago, and I’ve actually finished more first drafts the past year than I’d done during the ten years previous to that.

I love that. This is so true!  I’ve slowly been learning the same principle. You can’t edit a blank page. Nor can you revise a blank one. You’ve got to get it out of your head and onto the page. Without the clay there is no pottery. This is my experience with poetry, fiction and even blog posts!

 

 

 

 

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*Can you tell us a little about your current WIP? (Work in progress)

I’m currently working on an ebook on character creation for my non-fiction. My fiction WIP is actually a series of short stories that are set in a fictional fantasy world that’s quite dark and gritty, a bit gothic, mysterious, and corrupt. I can’t say that I’ve read anything like it before, so there’s nothing I can really compare the series to, but it’s a lot of fun to write.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Keep us posted!

 

 

*How long have you been working on your WIP? (Work in progress)  I’ve been pondering mine for at least 2 1/2 years now.

I think the idea to the first story in my fiction series came to me at the beginning of this year (January or February). I’m editing the first two in the series and have just finished outlining the 6th story, which I will begin writing any day now. The ones I have at the moment are between 4.000-10.000 words, so they don’t take very long to write. And I’ve been lucky enough to consistently get new ideas, which keeps the ball rolling.

Awesomesauce!  Totally looking forward to reading it!

 

 

 

*What’s it like publishing non-fiction? I’ve been thinking about this a lot and would love to publish some someday.

Publishing non-fiction is quite simple, really. One of the differences between fiction and non-fiction is that non-fiction is categorized into a niche instead of a genre, and you can get a lot more eyeballs on your non-fiction because of the targeted keywords you can use (both in the keywords list on Amazon, but also in the title and sub-title of your book). One of the things non-fiction is used for a lot nowadays is to grow the business behind the book. The book may serve as a lead magnet to an online course or to get people to hire you for speaking gigs, etc. But you don’t need a business to write non-fiction. My initial thought behind my own non-fiction was (like I said before) to get my thoughts out on paper. I didn’t think about creating a whole business out of it. With that said, it doesn’t mean that I won’t create online courses on writing in the future (I do have some ideas, but I also need time to execute them properly).

I have several ideas for non-fiction and can’t wait to dive into it. 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Can you tell us a bit about your blog? And desire to help other writers? I personally have benefited from your blog and appreciate your writing.

I started my blog as I started writing The Busy Author’s Guide, to get my thoughts about the craft of writing out of my head. Then, as I began to develop The Busy Author’s Guide series I saw the blog as another means to help writers who might’ve been as overwhelmed as I was. I read a lot of books on writing long before I started the blog, and I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I was with all the information (which actually led me to spend more time reading about writing than I actually spent writing). The idea behind the blog and The Busy Author’s Guide then became that smaller steps were easier to take. The Busy Author’s Guide are short ebooks because I don’t want writers to spend time going through yet another full-length book instead of writing. I also believe that exercises actually lead people to take action, so that was always a big part of the books. The blog has developed into something more than the books, I think, and some of my focus on the blog is to inspire people to write. I do have posts with exercises and such, but I also publish story structure case studies because I believe story structure is such a big part of writing fiction

 

Check out Kylie’s blog at: The Writing Kylie. Please see below for links to recent posts.

 

 

 

 

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*Do you have any favorite quotes?

Neil Gaiman wrote in an essay, something like: “You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if?” I love that quote because I use it all the time when I outline my stories.

I love the *what if* question. The possibilities are endless. 

 

 

************

 

“I love the possiblity of fiction” -Benjamin Thomas

 

************

 

 

*Favorite novels or writing books?

I have to say that Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art is a must read for all writers (all creatives, really). The passages about resistance are golden and has helped me a lot.

 

 

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The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

 

 

 

*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

 

What initially inspired my writing was that I needed to sort out the things I had in my mind. I’m also a very curious person, so I ask a lot of questions and spend much time searching for answers. I’ve learned that keeping my mind open – and my eyes – to the smaller things in the everyday life has helped my creativity a lot.

Reading books was what initially sparked my interest for writing. I think that a lot of people in my generation were influenced by the Harry Potter series (as was I). Those books were the starting point of my own more serious approach to writing fiction (I’d done it more for fun before). The whole process behind writing fiction was then the foundation on which I created The Busy Author’s Guide series. I wanted to get my thoughts of my own writing process out on paper, and while I wrote The Busy Author’s Guide I also honed my process of writing fiction. So, while my focus right now is on fiction, writing non-fiction has helped me develop as a writer.

I can’t wait to pick your brain regarding your reading experience. Come again! My other interview series is called, Forensic Lenses. An investigative and exploratory approach into the mind of voracious readers. 

 

 

 

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*What’s your GOAL  in becoming a writer?

My goal has always been to publish fiction. At the moment I’ve only published non-fiction but am working on my fiction writing as well. I don’t have any further goal at the moment.

 

Drop us a line when you get close to finishing your fiction. Pinky promise?

 

 

 

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*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

I can’t really think of three things, but the one thing that’s hindered me before is a major one: fear of judgement (which I think most creatives have). That can be really crippling.

Yeah, I think fear is pretty much universal. Don’t let fear hold you back from your dreams! Let’s show him who’s boss.

 

 

 

 

Sparring Fighters

 

Sparring with fear—knock em’ out!

 

 

 

 

*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

The thought of making up stories by writing them down for the rest of my life is what keeps me going. I can’t think of anything I want more than that.

YESSSS. I’m in the same boat.

 

*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Again, fear of judgement or fear that people won’t think I’m good enough is something I struggle with. But, at the moment, my determination to meet the goal of publishing fiction is stronger than any fear (let’s just hope that lasts :)).

We all have that fear. But hey, let’s put a good fight! Our determination is much stronger than anything fear can muster up. 

 

 

 

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*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

I think that a lot of people quit because they doubt themselves or because they realize that writing something (whether it’s fiction or non-fiction) is a lot harder than they thought.

These are valid reasons. Doubt is a big one. Hard work is the other. 

 

 

*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

If you have a story inside you, then I urge you to keep writing. I’m sure that your story is worth sharing. Sure, all of us have our good and bad days, and we may want to quit on our bad days. But if you stick with it, write the crappy first draft, work hard on edits, and get your story out in the world for others to read, you will feel like the struggle was well worth it. 

 

 

 

“If you have a story inside you, then I urge you to keep writing” Kylie Day

 

 

Thanks Kylie!  

 

Connect with Kylie Day:  Contact info

 

 

 

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The pen may be heavy, but hey, keep writing!!!!!

 

 

 

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*************************

 

~If you don’t finish your book who’s gonna  feed our eyeballs? -Benjamin Thomas

 

 

*************************

 

 

 

Hungry young boy is staring and smelling a burger
Hungry readers….

 

 

 

 

 

 

OVER AND OUT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Solid Inspiration for Struggling Writers with Brianna da Silva

 

 

 

 

STORY OF THE WRITER 

SERIES WITH

BRIANNA DA SILVA

 

 

 

 

World poverty

 

 

 

 

“You have to be a terrible writer before you can be a good one or a great one.” ~Brianna da Silva

 

 

*******

 

We may be from different lands, cultures, backgrounds–But one thing is abundantly clear; we all speak the same language of grief. ~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

*******

 

 

 

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Brianna da Silva

 

 

 

Everyone please welcome Brianna da Silva! 

 

Brianna is a YA fantasy writer, bookworm, Christ follower and is currently editing her novel and novella. You can find her tweeting encouraging words @Brianna_daSilva and blogging at The Story Port, a blog for storytellers…And by the way, her site is AWESOME. There’s something so mesmerizing about it.

 

*Where are you from originally? 

Virginia… the land of misty fields and muggy summers! Before that, Pluto, I think.

Pluto to Northern Virginia, must’ve been quite a road trip.

 

 

*What are you studying? 

I actually graduated two years ago. My degree is in Digital Arts and Design. I get paid to make things. (AKA do magic.)

You look SO young I assumed you were still in college! 

 

 

*I love your blog! Tell us about it. 

Aw, thank you! My blog is called StoryPort. (briannadasilva.com) I write about storytelling techniques as I learn them, and give updates about my own epic fantasy projects.

 

 

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*Can you tell us about your languages that you are developing? 

Ooh! I get so excited about my languages. (I’m a nerd… can you tell?)

I have many in development, all inspired by various real-world tongues and writing systems. I’ve tried to veer away from the cliché Middle-Earth-sounding languages.
For example, one of the major languages in my current WIP, Emergence, is called Mosori. It’s a crossover of traditional Hawaiian and modern Spanish. For fun, I’ll teach you a phrase:
An aki ma’hani.

(Say: on aw-KEE muh-HAW-nee)
That’s an idiom that basically just means, “It’s all good; no worries!”

That’s cool! Thanks for sharing. I love the name Mosori and the sound of that word. For those of you who don’t know, Brianna and myself are crazy about languages. 

 

 

 

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Brianna’s work in progress

 

 

 

 
*You’re writing Science fiction & Fantasy right? 
Almost… I’m writing epic fantasy, but I definitely have ideas for SFF down the line! 😉

That’s great–But I totally forget what epic fantasy is, honestly. Definitely sounds epic though. 

 

 
*Tell us 3 FUN facts about yourself.

I was home schooled through high school.

I once ate zebra steak in Namibia. (It tasted surprisingly like… steak.)

I have a pixie cut. More importantly, I actually am a pixie.

Home schooling sounds extremely difficult from a parent’s perspective. Zebra steak sounds rather appealing. I’d totally eat it with BBQ sauce…And I suppose you could pass for a pixie! 

 

 

 

*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you? 

I started writing when I was three years old. Well, I could only dictate back then, but I knew from a very young age that I was meant to be a storyteller. When I was eleven, I first became introduced to epic fantasy and young adult literature. It has remained my main passion ever since.

Wowsers! I’m always amazed by those who start their passion early in life. Brianna I’d love to have you back and pick your brain on your reading experience. 

 

 

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*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

My goal is simple, but ambitious! I want to make a living as a self-published author, blogger, and filmmaker. This is just not a hobby for me; I’ve taken my vocation very seriously since I was a kid.

Wow that’s great! You’re pretty focused. I fully hope you achieve your’re dreams.

 

 
*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT) 
A constant flow of ideas. In my early teens, I never finished anything, because I was always working on at least half a dozen projects at once. I was passionate about all of them. But since then, I’ve learned to be more focused.

Perfectionism. The first true novel I ever finished took me four years to write. And it was terrible. After that I adopted the iterative process of writing: Get down a rough draft quickly, and don’t worry about making it perfect. Then edit, edit, edit. The results are better this way, and it’s much easier to finish each draft!

Fear. While I wouldn’t say fear has prevented me from completing a project, it has certainly made it harder to reach that finish line. Fear of failure, fear of creating subpar work, and fear of vulnerability through art all plague me on a constant basis. Pushing through this fear is what gives me the freedom to create.

The constant flow of ideas is a source of trouble for me. Staying focused is a challenge. Perfectionism is problem for a lot of writers I’ve talked to. Fear is another frequent nemesis.  But I guess suffering is inevitable with anything you truly love. Romance always comes with turbulence.

 

 

 

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*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE) 

Creating stories gives me a deep sense of purpose. When I’m writing, it feels like something I was made to do, even on days of stress or insecurity or self-doubt. Also, my mind is constantly bustling with ideas. What would I do with them otherwise?

Creating stories with a sense of purpose seems to resonate well with me, and I’d rather be bustling with ideas than have none at all!

 

 
*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way? 

I might say time. I make time to write almost every day, but it still feels like I never have enough of it. (Can’t we all relate?) And I have so many stories bubbling inside me. They’re impatient!

I just thought of this today. The lack of time. I want to kick my job to the curb, shoo everyone away and write. Just write; story after story after story, until my heart’s content. 

 

 

 

if not now when

 

 

 

 
*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

I think fear is a major factor. Creative people typically struggle with perfectionism, but the thing is, our standards are always higher than our abilities… and they should be! It means we’re constantly improving.
I think what can happen is that while writers are in the formative years, while they’re still growing and their craft is still rough, they can run into discouragement. This stage is where writers need encouragement and affirmation the most. But if they don’t get that, they may be overwhelmed by the sense that they’re “not good enough,” and give up before they have the chance to reach that level.

This is a very good word to hear. I don’t claim to be a perfectionist, but I do struggle with elements of the same mindset to some degree. 

 

 

 

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Have you made peace with imperfection? See yourself in a different light for a change. A change in perspective changes everything.

 

 

 
*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up? 

Listen up, friends, because I’m going to give it to you straight: Everyone starts off terrible. It’s the truth! It’s the same if you’re learning an instrument, a sport, or any other skill. You have to be a terrible writer before you can be a good one or a great one. Writing isn’t about tapping into some magical inner gift that was bestowed upon you at birth. It’s about tenacity. It’s about remaining teachable like your life depends on it. It’s about learning and practicing and never giving up. So, don’t be discouraged if your craft isn’t where you want it to be yet. Just keep going. You’ll get there!

Oh, I love it! This is great encouragement. This goes back to what you said earlier, our standards will always be higher than our abilities. Or, you could say, we don’t measure up to our own expectations. We consciously or subconsciously expect our abilities to match, or even exceed,  our ever-ethereal standards. Then we slowly begin to suffer from the self-inflicted wounds of introspection, discouragement, doubt, settling in like stone. Our hopes and dreams hemorrhage on the spot, and the rigamortis of writer’s block comes in to finish the job.

 

 

 

“A goal without a plan is a wish” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 

*******

 

 

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” ~Nelson Mandela

 

 

*******

 

 

*Tell us about your current WIP (work in progress)

Here’s the synopsis for my WIP, Emergence:
The Empire of Dorina has never been challenged… until now. Invaded by a powerful enemy bent on massacring their people, the Dorins act in desperation: They send courageous ambassadors into the vast, untamed wilderness beyond their borders to seek aid from two legendary cities.

There’s only one problem.

If they can find the cities… if they can survive the journey… there’s a high chance these cities will join their enemies instead.

Kindy Sharrow, a fifteen-year-old Nocturan with bat wings, claws, and night vision, previously had to hide from the empire, which cruelly slaughtered her kind for sport. Now, required to join the war against the invaders, she must fight her own demons: A secret drug addiction that is slowly killing her. And she has one, ultimate goal: Destroy her arch enemy, Charris Pouden, and his lustful desire for her, before he gains enough power to destroy her first.

Kindy finds herself entering the war with her younger brother Jensen, and new friend Lasía, a mysterious archer with a pet battle wolf. Together they fight against the bloodthirsty invaders, and journey into the heart of the wilderness to find the only two cities that will save them.

But as they begin to learn more about the empire’s secrets… a dark history buried in ashes and drenched in blood… they wonder if their enemies are not so wrong for wanting to annihilate them after all.

The bonds of friendship will be tested. Alliances will be questioned. In a story of political intrigue, ethics of war, and young love, one question must be answered: Which side will you join?

That sounds like an great story!  I believe you’d be a great storyteller. Go for it! 

 

 

 

 

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~Fear can paralyze you…Unless you make the first move. -Benjamin Thomas

 

 

*******

 

 

~DISCIPLINE is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. -Jim Rohn

 

 

 

 

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THANKS FOR  JOINING THE TRAIN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Author Interview: The Tenacity of Linda Kane

 

 

 

STORY OF THE WRITER SERIES

PLEASE WELCOME LINDA KANE

 

 

 

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Hi Linda!!

 

Check out her author site : Linda L. Kane

Follow her blog at: L.L. Kane

Connect on Social Media: Facebook @lindaleekaneauthor

on Twitter @llkane2152

 

 

**********

 

 

 

front cover
Light at end of the tunnel.

 

The Black Madonna

 

*I read about your location in your bio. Does living near the ocean help your writing process?

When my bio was written I assumed that I would be living primarily In Pacific Grove, California. Instead, I ended up  living  in  both Fresno and in Pacific Grove. I have many horses, and dogs in Fresno. I couldn’t bare to leave them for any length of time . As to writing, I write in Fresno, in a back bedroom that I have turned into an office. I paint in the garage in Pacific Grove and create ideas for writing while walking on the boardwalk or on the sand with my dogs. I also belong to a writing group in Pacific Grove that are creative men and women.

Wonderful!  I’m picturing you walking along the boardwalk with tons of ideas. 

 

 

 

Jeremylinda

 

                                            Very beautiful horse!

 

 

 

*Are you originally from California?

I am originally from Oregon City, Oregon. Most of my family still lives there. I miss the cool weather, the smell of the trees, and the freshness of the air.

I’ve heard Oregon is absolutely gorgeous, can’t wait to go there one day. 

 

 

 

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What did I study?

I studied many things, becoming an airline stewardess, journalism, reprographics, and animal communication, then I became older and realized that I had two sons with learning disabilities. I saw how teachers out of frustration or lack of training had difficulty working with them and so many other kids. I decided not only to help in the class room, but I became a school psychologist, learning disability specialist, behavior analyst, and I also received a degree in Communicative Disorders and a Masters in Education.

WOW. That’s amazing! You’re quite an accomplished person, and a lot to do with communicating. Now I can understand why you would be a writer. It’s just another way of communicating. Excellent.

 

 

 

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*Which genre do you claim as your own?

The genre that I read the most is nonfiction, historical. What I claim as my own is speculative historical fiction.

I always have a high appreciation for anyone who can write historical fiction. Hats off to you, Linda!

 

 

 

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*Why do you write for adults and children?

That is a great question. I write for me when it comes to the adult books. I finished The Black Madonna, a historical fiction book with romance after two years of research on the Cathars. I write for children because of my background in learning disabilities. The stories provide inspiration in never giving up, whether it’s dancing, math, reading, or conquering your fears.

Very inspiring! You’re truly a multi-talented artist. 

 

 

 

Children Books by Linda Lee Kane

 

 

book 6

 

Katterina Ballerina

 

 

book 5

 

Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Christmas

 

 

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Matty’s Adventures in Numberland

 

 

 

 

*Who are your favorite authors and books?

Steve Berry, Brad Metzler, Tey, Agatha Christie, Dr. Seuss, the Brothers Grimm, and so many more.

Wonderful group of authors.

 

 

*You strike me as a very expressive person, have you ever written poetry?

I had never really read poetry until a woman I met, Brenda Najamin would read her poetry in a class I was taking. I would take her poems home and pour over them, it was amazing. I do like Robert Frost, I have kept his poetry tucked back in my mind. I love his flow, his rhythm and the stories he tells.

 

I’d bet you’re a natural at it. I got that vibe when I read your bio. 

 

 

 

 

~Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words -Edgar Allan Poe

 

 

 

How did I come to love history?

Great question. I could give the tried and true answer that if you don’t know the past you’re destined  to repeat it. But for me, there is so much more. I believe that when you see individuals struggle through life, you realize no matter what era you live in, you’re not alone. We all have the same ‘wants’, desires, and compassion.I also like to rediscover people from old books, like Richard III, or Mary, Queen of Scots. The battles, the heroism, and yes, the love.

 

History is my worst subject, so I appreciate anyone who can write historical fiction.

 

 

 

 

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                     This is my brain on history…..

 

 

 

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“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

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Do I have a favorite time period?

I believe that in every time period there is something that gets me excited, that I want to learn more about. I stumbled upon the Cathars from the 12th century and how the Roman Church persecuted them for their beliefs. I’m reading about the Plantagenets and the Tudors and was amazed to find out that King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard was only thirteen years old. His reasoning to cut off her head was insane, he probably was by then. How Henry VII won the crown from Richard III, and I ponder who really was responsible for the death of the Princes in the Tower, or did they die? My family is from the Isle of Man and about Illiam Dhone who rose against the Stanleys and captured all the insular forts. Dhone was tried and executed and a famous poem was written about him by Sir Walter Scott. Yes, he is a relative.

 

That’s cool! Can’t wait to read your book, the Black Madonna. 

 

 

 

 

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Why did I begin to write?

I think to chase the demons away, it’s cathartic. Something in every book has a little of me. By writing about it, creating a story I can resolve parts of history and possibly help others with a clearer understanding of that time period, or possibly about themselves, or me.

 

I see a fascinating connection between your desire to resolve something in history, in your past, and your love of history.

 

 

What is my goal?

To write well, to learn, to educate, and possibly with my children’s books, help kids with learning disabilities or life struggles.

Those are all honorable goals. 

 

 

What hinders me?

Nothing hinders me, I set a goal, and I go after it. Every day I write, every day I set a new goal for myself. Primarily it’s to educate. My father always said, ‘You may not be the brightest bulb in the batch but you have tenacity’. I think that’s true of me.

 

YES. “Nothing hinders me, I set a goal, and I go after it.” I love that spirit! A tenacious bulb! 

 

 

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What keeps me motivated?

I believe that I have no choice, I have to share what I learn, I have to educate, and for a personal goal, I would like to be the best that I can be as a  storyteller.

 

I kind of knew this was coming. You’re a very driven person, and you strike me as an overachiever. You can only be the best you at any given moment. Your desire to educate is very inspiring. 

 

 

Why do people give up?

I believe they give up because of their lack of belief in themselves. You can make an excuse like, time, kids, etc. but if you really want it, you toss out the naysayers in your life or the evil demon that sits on your shoulder telling you to ‘give up, you can’t do it. You find a time to write, to go after your dream, you never give up, you never give in. You Just Do It (like the Nike commercial).

 

This is great. I’m seeing the fire of your tenacity here, it’s admirable. Can I borrow some? I see why you’re an educator. You’re passionate, dedicated, focused, driven, and committed to learning. This is also why I say you’re “expressive”. You have strong feeling to communicate, connect and help others. This was evident in the beginning when you said you studied animal communication, became a school psychologist, and even painting and writing. You go Linda!

 

 

What do I say to people who have given up?

Believe in yourself, there is no one but you, and only you will live to regret the choices you’ve made. If you want it bad enough, don’t let anyone or anything stop you.

Therapeutic.

 

 

 

*Can you give us a summary of the Black Madonna?

The Black Madonna is a story of Luci de Foix, a young woman who was orphaned at the age of nine when her parents were killed in a car accident. But the more Luci learns, the more she realizes that there might not have been an ‘accident’ at all. A mysterious group called The Order has been keeping watch over her family line for hundreds of years, and has been waiting for the day when a secret diary will be delivered to Luci, unlocking a code that The Order desperately wants. And when just such a diary is delivered to Luci when she is twenty-nine years old, she realizes that it might be the only way to learn her true family history and the key to her own future. Will Luci be able to figure out the codex in time to save herself and avenge family?
Excellent premise. Whoever did the book cover for this did a great job.

 

 

 

 

front cover
Light at end of the tunnel.

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Frost  wrote a poem called, ‘The Road Not Taken’, I think it’s a must read for anyone thinking of not pursuing their dream.

 

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

***

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

***

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

***

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

By Robert Frost

 

 

 

What am I currently working on?

I just finished a YA titled Chilled to the Bone which will be out in the next few weeks, a children’s story to help kids and parents with math, a children’s story about an abandoned pony named Clyde. It’s a true story, and I can’t wait for the artwork to be completed. My current book is called Bottoms Up, it’s about the Central Valley, murder, and mystery in the world of fine wine and the competition that goes on.

 

Can’t wait to see what you come up with! Thanks Linda!

 

 

 

Favorite Quote:

Anything by Mae West, she was incredible so I’m not quoting anything profound, or am I?

 

 

Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before, or you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

 

Here’s another: I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Keep writing

and don’t stop

-Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

Story of the Writer: Interview with Ian Townsend

 

 

 

Everyone Please Welcome 

Ian Townsend

 

 

 

 

Headshot

 

Welcome a fellow writer, blogger and Wordplayer from our Facebook group. Check out Ian’s blog over at The Town’s End Tribune .

 

 

Let the games begin

 

 

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“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” -Mark Twain

 

 

 

***********

 

 

 

 

* Were you born and raised in Texas?

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Despite not living in the state since I graduated high school (minus a 9 month period when I was stationed in Corpus Christi), it is still home to me. Hopefully, in the near future I will be moving back!

Awesome, I love Texas!  

 

 

*What did you read in your early years?

When I moved past children’s books, I started out reading the things that my parents had on the bookshelves. It was mostly sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries, and horror. Some of the authors stuck with me, but I eventually branched out and found authors and stories that I liked. I read as often as I could, and I loved going to the used book stores to search for hidden or gently used treasures.

I always enjoy learning how others got started loving reading. 

 

 

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*Any particular stories that had a major impact on you?

The Bazil Broketail series by Christopher Rowley is, hands down, my favorite series of all time. It wasn’t all that popular during its time, and you can’t find it anywhere except in paperback, but no other story influenced my imagination as much as that one. There is also the Fuzzy Papers by H. Beam Piper. The simplicity of the story showed me that you don’t have to beat people over the head with details to tell a great story.

It’s fascinating how certain stories resonate with certain individuals and not with others. The other mystery is how these stories seem to ignite, inspire and influence our imagination.

 

 

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*Who are your favorite characters?

Bazil Broketail is #1 for me, because he is not only the namesake of my favorite series, but he is the heart and soul of everything great about the book. There would still be a good story without him, but he makes it extraordinary. Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher really got me interested in using magic in my stories. I also loved the humor and “Hard Luck Harry” feel about him. Aspar Whyte from the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone Series by Greg Keyes is a great everyman character. All he wants is to do is protect his forest and be left alone, but with the world going crazy all around him, he has to leave his comfort zone to protect people he has come to care about, and to try and help ease the madness that has gripped the world. He’s not a superhero, and he’s not your prototypical protagonist, but he will do anything to protect what he loves, and that makes him a hero in his own right.

Nice. It’s amazing how one character can make an impact on us. Now it’s our turn!

 

 

 

*Name your top 3-5 favorite authors.

I’ll start off with John Scalzi, who has written a lot of great sci-fi. His Star Trek spoof novel Redshirts was highly entertaining. Jim Butcher’s works influenced me to begin writing again, via his connection to Deborah Chester. When I got my hands on her writing book, I began seeking out other writing advice, and here I am now. Jim’s urban fantasy and new steampunk work are very good reads, and they are so immersive. I can always see exactly what the book is saying in my head. Then, of course, there is Christopher Rowley. I wish that he had written more of the stories in the world he created, but after the seventh book in the Broketail series, he moved to a different genre. That fantasy world is the one that I can’t help but return to for inspiration.

Inspiration is great isn’t it? Its contagious nature is powerful.

 

 

*In your opinion who are some of the top authors of the century?

To me, being a top author doesn’t have to correlate with the most successful one. Jim Butcher and John Scalzi are recognized in their fields, but they are not giants in the writing world. I still think they are top authors of the 21 st century, in my humblest of opinions. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child always put out compelling stories together in the mystery/thriller department that are far better than most of the well-known writers in the genre. There are so many more I could point out, but those four are the ones I have read most regularly over the past 16 years.

This is great. I’ve been asking different writers this question and enjoyed every answer. There’s definitely no shortage of talent among authors. 

 

 

 

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Summary of A Mage’s Fire (working title)

When the discovery of his extraordinary magical powers puts his family in danger, Cade embarks on an improbable journey to rescue them. Silas, an outcast mage, has set a trap to lure Cade in so that he may exact revenge and gain favor and glory he so desperately seeks. Cade must learn to control the potent magic flowing through him in time to save his loved ones and himself from the vicious enemies that lurk beyond the borders of the Ferrovathi Empire.

Cool! Sounds intriguing. 

 

 

 

There is no friend as loyal as a book  ~Ernest Hemingway

 

 

 

*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

When I was younger, I did a lot of reading. I would always imagine what if scenarios associated with the books I was reading, and my imagination was always full of ideas and stories. It was never really anything substantial or interesting until I learned how to harness my ability to write in college. I was talked in to joining the school newspaper and it took off from there. What was just an imaginary world in my head began to take shape on paper. Before I learned how to properly write, I had a lot of great ideas, but no understanding in how to expand upon those premises. I would get a fantastic thought, and it would die after the initial burst of creativity. In college, I learned about “going down the rabbit hole” to see where the story led. Journalism is a different world than fiction writing, but there are many similarities that I was able to apply to my desire to pursue being a fiction novelist.

Awesome. This also seems to be the ultimate fascination. How to translate what we see in our heads into stories on the page. 

 

 

 

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*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

I want to make a living as a fiction novelist. I want to do something with my life that I can put my heart and soul in to, and this is my brass ring. Writing is a love that I have always had, and after college, it was a pursuit that has been who I am. I had to set it aside for a long time, but now I am going after it again harder than ever before.

Go after your dreams! I’m doing the same myself.

 

 

 

*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

The biggest hindrance for me has been my job in the military. After college, I was working for 2 newspapers and I was also working a part time job in retail. I loved my writing jobs, but I wasn’t making ends meet. I joined the Navy to follow family military tradition and to pay the bills. This didn’t really leave me time to write. I put it on the back burner to focus on the military, and I would take stabs at it when I could. Another thing that has hindered me is myself. I doubted my abilities to actually write something worth sharing with others. You are your biggest critic, and if you tell yourself you can’t do it, you won’t. The third thing that has hindered me from being productive is creative atrophy. If you don’t work your creative muscles, they will stop working. When I would try to work on things, I would hit walls because my creativity wasn’t in shape. I would get frustrated and give up, and my creativity would atrophy even farther.

I can totally relate to this. Trying to keep the drive alive so to speak, is difficult. 

 

 

*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

When I decided to really give writing another shot, it came with the realization that I didn’t want to spend 20 years in the military. My wife has been working on her Bachelor’s degree in music performance, and we always talked about her achieving her dreams of playing viola in a big time orchestra. She had times where she wanted to quit, but I always talked her through it, and told her to never give up on her dreams. I realized that it was time for me to start focusing on what I wanted. The military wasn’t it. My sports days were long over, and I was not going back to journalism. It was time for me to really focus on being a fiction writer. So I began working on it. Right now, I am just getting my skills back in shape and doing what I can to keep it in my life on a constant basis. Being a part of my wife’s pursuit of her dream has kick-started my chase. Setting my future goals is also helping my motivation, because now I have something to shoot for.

Seeing others go after their dreams is so invigorating and encouraging.

 

 

 

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************

 

 

If you can dream it

You can do it 

-Walt Disney

 

 

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*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

The biggest antagonist I have is myself. I control what time I set aside to write and how much effort I put in to it. I am my own worst enemy, and the only way to beat me is to keep doing things in small doses. I have been taking my process in small increments, which has helped me space out the work. By doing this, I have been able to create a stable platform to work on and I keep myself from overloading. I also keep myself from creative starvation, because I am not doing everything all at once, and leaving nothing in the tank. You will constantly fight battles in your own head, and the only way to win is to find a way to work with yourself. (I realize I sound like someone with multiple personality disorder, but don’t all novelists suffer from this?)

I know this all to well. By the time the day is over whatever fuel writing is on fumes. 

 

 

 

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*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

There are so many answers to this question. You could ask 100 different authors and get 100 different answers. I think the ultimate REASON is the writer. Whatever factor plays in, the writer is the common denominator. If the writer wants to get the book done, they will. If there is a will, there is a way. It can sometimes take years, but if they persevere, it will get done. If someone gives up, then ultimately, the writer is the reason that the book failed. Life is fluid and ever changing, so for a writer to completely give up on a project is for the writer to fail. I am guilty of this. I have thrown several projects in the trash, and that was a failure by myself as a writer. No idea is unsalvageable. Never give up on an idea. One day, many years later, you may finally be able to complete it, but not if you throw it out.

I believe writers are pretty resilient. You have to be in order to complete something like a novel. Thanks for sharing! 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by Ian!  Glad to have you on the Train!

 

 

*************************

 

 

No one can stop a dreamer with wings  ~ Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

*************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Author Interview: Discussing Comedy with Ana Spoke

 

 

 

 

 

WELCOME BACK TO THE WRITING TRAIN FOLKS

ALL ABOARD!

 

 

Everybody please welcome

ANA SPOKE

 

I am a self-published author and an unbridled enthusiast, moonlighting as a middle manager. I started my blog with one purpose – to finish a novel. The good news is, that after almost two years of constant writing, editing, and more editing, I have finished one. It’s a comedy, and it is now available on Amazon. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing.

The sequel to Shizzle Inc, Indiot is now AVAILABLE. Ana also blogs about the book marketing game over at anaspoke.com . Have a look at the “book marketing” tab for lists of resources and my personal experiences testing various marketing gimmicks.

 

 

AnaSpoke face only

 

 

Fo’ shizzle

 

Ana is also the founder of Comedy Book Week. An awesome event with an official website, over 60 participating authors and 111 books! It should be even more epic next year! If you’d like to sign up see the link above or contact Ana.

 

 

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LIVE 

LAUGH 

LEARN

REPEAT

 

 

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* What part of Australia are from? Were you born and raised there?

I live in Melbourne, Victoria, and it is currently the middle of winter here. I was born in Russia, but I’m technically Ukrainian, and I’ve lived in the US for 14 years. Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia but, arguably, the largest center for culture and arts.

Wow a world traveler! Melbourne sounds like a neat place.

 

*What’s Australia like?

It’s great, if you don’t mind the kangaroos, which are everywhere. Just kidding! Australia is more laid back than the US, but just like the US, it’s huge and varied in climate and local culture. In the US, I lived in Florida, so I still can’t get used to Melbourne’s crazy weather – it really can have “four seasons in one day.” Yesterday it was freezing and raining with hail (that’s the middle of winter for you), but today the sun is up and it’s warming up quickly. In summer, it’s not that unusual to have temperature drop by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a space of an hour, when the wind changes direction and starts blowing from the Antarctica. To make me even more miserable, while I’m freezing here, I hear it’s almost 90 degrees in Darwin, Northern Territory.

One of the things I like best about Australia is its multi-cultured mix of people. In Melbourne, about 40% of residents were either born overseas or had at least one parent born outside of Australia. So, being a foreigner is not such a big deal, and I felt accepted from the very first day. Such a mix of people also means you can get any ethnic food you desire, and it would be authentic, too.

Another thing that’s different from the US is that in Australia, most people live in cities, so the rest of the country is barely populated. This means a lot of untouched, wild “bush” nature. It also means crazy property prices in the city, tiny apartments, and tiny backyards, if you are lucky enough to have one. I think most Americans would struggle with the size of an average family home here.

Sounds quite fascinating!  It’s good to experience different cultures. Thanks for sharing your experience. 

 

 

 

*Where did you go to school? What did you study?

I’ve gone to school on three continents! I’ve studied landscape architecture, microbiology, environmental science, and project management, and have 1.3 Ph.D.s to show for the total of 13 years of full- and part-time study. I’ve never studied literature or writing, but over the last 2 years I’ve put myself through a self-designed and managed Masters of Self-Publishing (sort of). I blame it all on a combination of curiosity, short attention span, and a life-long addiction to the endorphin rush that comes with achieving goals.

That’s quite a blend of academic studies. I do remember when you were agonizing over your debut comedy novel Shizzle Inc. in some blog posts. Now it’s out! Impressive.

 

 

 

* What was your career track before pursuing writing? You mentioned about being a middle manager on your blog.

Still doing that, although I am currently finishing up my five-month long service leave. I work in a government agency, managing a small group of people and putting together management strategies. Maybe that’s why I could not resist starting #ComedyBookWeek – I was missing the rush that comes from organizing something new and nurturing it to grow into something big.

That’s again very impressive. Especially since it’s something fairly new and grew so quickly. You’re hired!

 

 

* Do you have any major hobbies you enjoy?

Currently the only one, obsessive, and all-consuming hobby is writing and marketing. I’ve had others– from breeding rare fish to kiteboarding, but they tend to come and go (see the previous comment about short attention span and endorphin rush).

Ana, I have to say, you’re a very interesting individual. I’ve never heard of kiteboarding and organizing anything makes my eyes cross.

 

 

Young man with Work in progress mark over his head
My brain on organization

 

 

 

*What’s your genre and why? Will you branch out?

My life-long genre is humor. It’s in everything I do, so even if I ever write something different, it will be funny. Perhaps a hilarious erotica series?

I love it. Everybody needs a good laugh right? 

 

 

*Tell us about your upcoming book, the sequel to Shizzle.

Indiot follows Isa Maxwell to India, where she was supposed to help a mysterious prince win back his fortune. She also hopes to convince the prince to use his wealth to help the orphans, and maybe write a book about it. Needless to say, noting goes as planned. It’s a mad romp that goes from bad to worse, and then, just as she sighs with relief, it plunges her even deeper into trouble.

Sounds wildly entertaining! I’m finishing up Shizzle now and will press on to Indiot very shortly. 

 

 

 

Indiot for Kindle June 21 2016

INDIOT

(Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2)

 

*What have you learned in your experience writing Shizzle?

I think the biggest lesson was to trust myself and to believe that somewhere in the world, there are people who would enjoy reading my books. I was so insecure about my ability to tell the story of Shizzle, Inc., that it took forever to finish it, and then even longer to get the balls to self-publish. Along the way, I just wanted someone to say, “Hey, this is not absolute garbage!” Now, thanks to my fans, I have an audience that’s eagerly awaiting Indiot’s release, and already asking about the third installment. It’s an amazing feeling, and a powerful fuel to keep going.

 

 

New Shizzle Kindle cover 21 June 2016

 

Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1)

 

 

 

*Can you tell us about your experience in self-publishing and marketing your book?

I’m strange in the sense that I now love the experience of self-publishing, and even more so –marketing. I had a lot to learn – the launch of Shizzle, Inc. was basically me saying “Thank God, it’s finished” and pressing “publish.” It took me another three months to publish a paper copy and to figure out some of the basics of book marketing. This time around, I am better prepared. The ebook and paperback are available at the same time, I have some early reviews thanks to fans willing to review ARCs, there’s paid marketing, Goodreads and Amazon giveaways, and of course, #ComedyBookWeek. Fingers crossed, all that effort will pay off. More importantly, I am learning so much, I have no doubt that the third book will be even better.

 

 

 

 

*You’re a writer; so what’s your story? What inspired you to take this journey?

I think I was meant to be a comedian – books are just one of the outlets for my never-ending clowning around. I literally can’t put a lid on it, and keep my colleagues laughing at work, and my family at home. At one point, I was even a comedy actor but, unfortunately, you have to wait for someone else to give you a role and write your material. With books and my blog, I can channel my gags straight at the audience – no middle man necessary.

I wanted to be comedian when I was a kid. I can totally relate to you on this level. 

 

 

*Now that you’re published what’s your GOAL (S)? What’s the next step?

One of them is to continue writing the Isa Maxwell escapades series – I’m not finished yet or, rather, Isa is not finished. I trust she will tell me when she’s had enough. I also want to write a new book, and have a multitude of ideas noted down – it will be a matter of choosing one. It will definitely be funny, although it will have a different “flavor.”

I’m all too intrigued to see what you come up with next. You got me on my toes.

 

 

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*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Lack of self-belief had to be the most significant one. I consider myself to be a confident person, but even so, it’s pretty scary to say to yourself, “Hey, I think I can write a whole novel, and make it worth someone’s time.” The second obstacle is time – my “regular” job is demanding, and it’s hard to be creative after a full day. And finally, lack of knowledge – with the first one, I had to study plotting, character development, and editing alongside of writing the actual novel. If anyone is writing their first book, I would highly recommend undertaking a self-designed Masters of Writing. There are so many books on writing to choose from, plus you may find local courses or online resources. And if you want Cliff Notes on self-publishing and marketing, then read my blog!

A lack of self-belief is a big one across the board for majority of writers. I can relate to the lack of time! Especially after work and kids. Writing is such an subjective process it can be overwhelming for new authors. Then the objective side of learning the monstrosity of putting together a complete novel is a large undertaking to say the least.

 

 

*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

A vision of myself as a full-time writer, plus the positive reviews on my books. I have read and re-read the reviews many times over, and each time I vividly imagine that person, laughing out loud on a train or “snorting tea everywhere.” That’s what keeps me going, especially after I get an occasional bad review. There are people out there, on the other side of the planet that have never met me, but have loved reading a story that I made up and published. It’s an amazing “head trip” for me.

YES. I’m so happy for you AND very jealous.  I’m also one of those far away peeps cracking up when everyone else is asleep.

 

 

 

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*What’s your main ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way of you accomplishing your goals?

Some unpublished writers think getting published is the only hurdle. Currently, I’m the boss of my antagonists and demons, and ploughing away every day. Again, this is thanks to the small successes along the way – positive reviews, supporters of my blog, and sales of my books. There have been times when I’ve questioned my investment of time and money, but I got up in the morning and kept going, and the Antagonist got weaker and weaker. I don’t think I will ever be completely free of self-doubt, but I’ve learned to manage it. Marketing your book is a much bigger hurdle than publishing. I hope writers understand and embrace it – and hey, it can even be fun! I would say that unpublished writers should have reasonable expectations of sales of their first book, and then continue working every day on improving their craft, as well as packaging, marketing, positioning, platform, and all that jazz. It’s a snowball, and it takes a long time of pushing it around before you start seeing it grow.

This is great info and inside scoop for us newbies looking to get out feet wet. Thanks Ana! I’m glad you keep going despite the hurdles you had to overcome. You must be good at track I suppose?

 

 

 

Overcome growing obstacles. Business concept. Render.

 

 

 

*Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?

I have not studied this enough, but I would say self-doubt coupled with negative feedback could kill any dream. I would recommend striving for smaller, intermediate goals on your way to “success,” whatever that may mean to you. That way, there are bursts of positive energy all along the way that will keep you going.

Good practical advice here. That way we don’t set up ourselves for failure. 

 

 

*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

It’s a very personal issue, and this industry is not for the faint of heart, so I would ask them what it is they really want. It may not be writing – in my case, for example, it’s the desire to make people laugh. There are other outlets for it, such as acting or stand-up. If, however, the person truly wants to be a writer, I would tell them to stop acting like a victim, get it together, make a plan, and try again. What can I say, my Russian is showing.

This is good stuff here. I like your Russian.

 

 

*What else is coming down the pike for you?

Well, #ComedyBookWeek is shaping up to be quite a celebration. It’s hard to think it was just a vague idea six weeks ago, and now it’s an event with an official website, over 60 participating authors and 90 books. Based on the level of interest I’ve been getting over the last few weeks, the next year will be huge. Another sharp learning curve for me, and another blast of endorphins. Bring it on!

 

 

BRING ON THE LAUGHS!!!!

 

 

 

 

glassy-smiley-good

 

 

 

 

Stay connected with Ana! 

 

LINKS:

Shizzle, Inc: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1

Indiot: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2

Blog: anaspoke.com

#ComedyBookWeek: Comedybookweek.com

 

 

FAVORITE QUOTE

 

I thought about a few famous quotes, but decided to live the interview with a fresh one. My nephew-in- law has written a musical called “Einstein, Master of the Universe.” One quote from the play truly resonated with me:

 

“Pursue a problem, and it soon becomes a prize.” It worked for Einstein, and it would work for any of us.

 

 

Keep Writing

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Interview: Author Anne Janzer on her book, The Writing Process Getting Your Brain in Gear

 

 

WELCOME EVERYONE 

 

 

Today we have a very special guest

Professional writer and author

Anne Janzer!

 

 

 

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Anne is the author of the stunning books, The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear and Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn.

 

 

 

“I am part of everything that I have read.” -Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

 

 

WELCOME ANNE

 

 

 

 

Janzer headshot small low res

 

Anne Janzer is a marketing consultant and professional writer with more than 20 years of experience working with high tech businesses. Her clients include software industry giants, fast-moving tech start-ups disrupting the status quo, and clean tech companies trying to change the world.

Anne has worked with over a hundred technology businesses, from industry giants to innovative start-ups, helping them articulate positioning and messaging in crowded markets. In her consulting career, she has collaborated with serial entrepreneurs, industry thought leaders, and technology pioneers pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. As a ghost-writer for corporate executives, her work has appeared in dozens of industry publications and blogs, including Wired.com and the Sand Hill blog.

In addition to her own blog on subscription and content marketing, she contributes guest posts to many many technology and marketing blogs, including Business2Community, Social Media Strategies Summit blog, Marketo and Zuora blogs, Crowded Ocean, and others. Anne has an established and growing author platform, including an email list, blog, and expansive social media presence. She is a graduate of Stanford University.

Connect with Anne on twitter @AnneJanzer, see her website at annejanzer.com, and follow her blog.

 

 

 

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Let the games begin

 

 

*What did you study in college?

I was an English literature major at Stanford.

Awesome! 

 

*Why did you choose that particular degree?

I chose the English major because, as a lifelong reader, I knew that would always, no matter what, want a literature class on my schedule every term. I realized that with careful planning, I could complete the English major, leaving myself open to explore other subjects. I almost did a double major in Human Biology, which at Stanford is an interdisciplinary major combining the hard and soft sciences. But after completing the core work, I ran out of steam in designing a personalized major. Instead I took classes in journalism, computer science, and psychology. I’m a strong believer in the value of a liberal arts education!

Wonderful. Education can shape us in so many ways.

 

*Who or what were your early influences that led to a writing career?

I come from a family of readers and writers. I had always imagined myself as a writer, since the time I was young.

Your imagination was right on target.

 

*After college why did you go into writing for tech companies and marketing? 

My first job out of college was at Stanford, working in the administrative computing group as a technical writer in a group of systems programmers. Being able to understand and write clearly about technology is a useful skill, particularly in Silicon Valley. Like many English majors, my career was more of a wandering journey than a clear linear path. I moved into product marketing at a startup, and then took off on my own as a marketing consultant/writer.

Nice. That would prove to a very useful skill in the silicon valley! 

 

*Give us a summary of your book and why you decided to write it.

The Writer’s Process is about the inner game of writing – matching the stage of the work to the way that your brain operates to be more productive and creative. I’ve spent many years as a professional writer figuring out the ways that I work best. Reading research about focus and creativity, suddenly those methods started making sense from a cognitive scientific standpoint. That inspired me to dig in and analyze the process. I wrote the book because I truly believe that a better understanding of the inner craft can help writers of all levels have more fun and success with their work.

Well, I’m certainly glad that you did. This book had a major impact me. On the seeking and understanding of my own process. It’s very easily one of my favorite craft books of all time. See, all your hard work paid off. Come to think of it, this book seems to be a culmination of years of writing experience. Now it’s in print and ready for consumption. Thanks!

 

 

 

Brain activity
You’re brain on writing…

 

 

 

Writing is the painting of voice. – Voltaire

 

 

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*What were your favorite parts in writing it?

I loved researching not only the science, but also the practices of other authors and writers. It’s fun to realize how much all writers have in common. Plus, there’s something very “meta” about writing a book about the writing; it gave me the opportunity to refine and tune my processes.

I think writing is both a collective and highly individualized art. We don’t exist or work in a vacuum. We’re influenced by those around us. The literary culture of our time leaves a remarkable footprint on society. Writers of every generation run, then pass the baton down to us.

The issue of their process, imagination and approach to writing leaves an indelible imprint on our souls. We seem to assimilate these ‘imprints’ into our own process, until we become a work of art ourselves. But when we learn, accumulate, express ourselves through our own process, we discover that it still bears a unique flavor. For when the flow strikes and flows through the artist, it takes on the sediment of the individual.

 

 

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….Then go edit them ~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

*What did you learn from writing it? Or has it affected your craft?

Writing the book has definitely made me more disciplined about my own process. For example, now I notice when I am tempted to skip a step and short-cut the full end-to-end writing “recipe” to save time. I’m more intentional about incubating ideas and problems. When I recognize the Imposter Syndrome or run into other problems, I have defenses ready.

This is great. I always enjoy how others have adapted their own process. Having an understanding is critical, however discipline seems to be largely underrated in my opinion.

Second, the fact that we can change and adapt this process tells me that it’s extremely malleable. Sounds like a special piece of clay doesn’t it? I know in pottery clay can take on many forms, possibly thousands. It all depends on the hands that shape them.

 

 

 

pottery-md

 

 

 

*Tell us about the relationship and potential collaboration between the Scribe and the Muse.

The book describes two different mental systems that all writers rely on. The Scribe is my name for the intentional and hard-working writer, while the Muse refers to intuitive, creative processes.

I love this! Scribe is a great name by the way. Thumbs up. The Scribe resembles a type A, control-freak-businessman, while the Muse is much like a mysterious laid-back teenager with a mind of its own. But the two must learn to work seamlessly together as a team.

 

 

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                                    No hard feelings, eh?

                             (photo credit Angelos Ntinas)

 

 

*In your book you label the Scribe and Muse in order to point out the intentional and intuitive mental processes. 

It’s a useful fiction, a way to frame the complexity of different inputs that go into writing. All writing depends on both systems; you need focus and discipline to work. But you also need the ability to summon thoughts and ideas and to make connections that bring your subject to life. Productive writers learn how to hand off the work between the two mental systems.

I think this statement sums up my enjoyment from the entire book actually. It’s extremely enlightening to realize that they’re two; but not diametrically opposed mental systems, and in order to be productive we must learn how to “hand off” the work between the two. Powerful.

 

 

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*Can you tell us more about open attention and focus and how they relate to our writing?

Focused attention is how we get the work done, blocking out distractions to write, research, or revise. In contrast, open attention is what happens when we do something that doesn’t require dedicated focus. We experience open attention when taking a walk or doing everyday tasks that are somewhat automatic.

Knowing about the nuances of attention is quite an eye opener. We must master both to tap into better productivity as writers. No wonder so many people get writer’s block. Too much dedicated focus and not enough open attention. The Scribe dominates the relationship and the Muse retreats to who knows where.

 

 

~Don’t bully the muse. Give it some room to fly high and mighty. -Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

*You said something very critical about moving between the two systems of Scribe and Muse by directing our attention. This seems to be a somewhat voluntary gateway; through which we can toggle back and forth between the two systems, or writing minds. 

Exactly! Using the metaphor of the two mental systems, the Scribe operates in a state of focused attention, while the Muse appears when we’re in open attention. Perhaps the Muse is always there, but we only hear it in states of open attention. To hand off work between these systems, you need to be able to focus intently, and then let go of focus. Spend time writing, then time “not-writing.”

This is amazing every time I hear it. The intentional mental process and the intuitive mental process. Then learning how to utilize the gateway between the two to get our best work done. 

 

 

 

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              open attention 

 

 

 

*Speak about the benefits of open attention.

When we’re in open attention, the Scribe is not managing our thoughts, and the Muse has a chance to contribute, to process unrelated thoughts and come up with interesting ideas.

In this section you tell us that we connect to the Muse through open attention. I’ve never heard this before. That’s so cool!

The cool thing is that this really works! When you need creative input on a problem, queue it up in your head, and then seek out a period of open attention. Here’s an example: a client was looking for a metaphor for a complex technical topic. I was drawing a blank. So I thought about it intentionally, then walked to the gym, worked out, and returned home. In the process, I kept bringing my thoughts back to the problem. I ended up with a number of creative approaches. The Muse is present in the background, ready to contribute when you invite its input.

This is AWESOME. “We connect to the Muse through OPEN ATTENTION. This is the key!

 

 

 

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*Speak to us about how to achieve a state of flow and what that means.

You marvelously explained how this is the result of the two writing selves working together in a fluid process, the productive and creative. 

 

Flow is that ideal writing state, when you lose yourself in the work. It makes the work fun and worthwhile.

Using the Scribe and the Muse analogy, the two are working together side-by- side in a state of flow.

You cannot force flow to happen, but you can set up an environment in which it is more likely to occur. The Muse is easily distracted, so remove potential distractions or interruptions. Find a place you can focus and start working. If you hear yourself criticizing or critiquing as you work, try to silence the inner critic. Think about the work, not yourself, and keep going.

This is the ultimate benefit. When we achieve a state of flow by the productive work between the two mental processes. One major takeaway for me is learning how to go from the focused intentional state to the open attention intuitive one by learning how to direct our attention. To me, this is the real key of achieving balance, utilization, and producing an ecstatic state of flow. EPIC. 

 

 

SOMEBODY BREAK THE DAM!

 

 

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This is your brain while writing in a state of flow…

 

 

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~But don’t feel bad when you have to turn off the faucet…Benjamin Thomas

 

 

*Bonus

Can you give a brief rundown of the 7 steps of the writing process?

 

Sure, these are my 7 steps. I try to schedule time for all of them. You might vary the steps, but the idea is to schedule for each phase, and bring the right system to the task at hand.

1. Research (both internal and external)

2. Incubate the ideas – give the Muse a chance to contribute

3. Outline or structure

4. Write the first draft – ideally finding a state of flow during drafting)

5. Rest before revising

6. Revise, edit and proofread

7. Publish!

 

Excellent, but in order to get the full affect please get the book!  The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear.

 

 

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~The WORST thing you write is BETTER than the BEST thing you DID NOT WRITE.-Unknown

 

 

 

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~I’ll write until the sky fails and the ink runs dry. But the sky is firm, and the heart’s well is deep. ~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

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Don’t hold back, take off your gloves and put up a fight.

 

 

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Every writer’s legacy resides in the written word. It comes alive when you read it.

 

 

 

SEE YA!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com