NaNoWriMo Prep with Kristen Martin





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PREPTOBER | Planning Your Novel for NaNoWriMo




How are you prepping for NaNoWriMo this year? Tell me in the comments!




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Benjamin Thomas


Contemplating the Writing Life with Writer Rochelle Deans



Hi Folks! 

Welcome Back 

To the Story of the Writer 

Interview Series











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.
















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! 











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.





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






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.  







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! 









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








“…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







The six golden rules of writing: 


-Ernest Gaines








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







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







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










Whatever you do….keep writing.






Benjamin Thomas


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!













*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









*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!










*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. 











*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.









*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.





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. 








*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?









*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. 










*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









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









~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….















Benjamin Thomas


Solid Inspiration for Struggling Writers 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







Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
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. ( I write about storytelling techniques as I learn them, and give updates about my own epic fantasy projects.






*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. 






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. 





*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.







*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. 






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! 








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






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

















Benjamin Thomas


Watch “How To Write a Book | The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Writers” on YouTube







Author of the Alpha Drive Trilogy 










Which habits do you practice? Tell me in the comments! 




Benjamin Thomas

Story of the Writer: Interview with Ian Townsend




Everyone Please Welcome 

Ian Townsend







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






“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. 







*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.







*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. 








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. 







*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.













If you can dream it

You can do it 

-Walt Disney





*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. 





*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



Author Interview: Discussing Comedy with Ana Spoke










Everybody please welcome



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 . 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.
























* 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


(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.







*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.








*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!













Stay connected with Ana! 



Shizzle, Inc: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1

Indiot: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2







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



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






Today we have a very special guest

Professional writer and author

Anne Janzer!








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










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 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, and follow her blog.







Let the games begin



*What did you study in college?

I was an English literature major at Stanford.



*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

*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.






….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.








*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.




                                    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.




*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. 





              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!








*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. 







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









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




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.






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









~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





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





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








Benjamin Thomas



Watch “Plot Your Fiction Novel by Using Depth, Drama and Heart with Roz Morris” on YouTube










~Bringing you the best video for your writing journey~

Don’t miss this video with the talented Roz Morris & Lorna Faith







What did you learn? Tell me in the comments!




Interview: H.M. (Hannah) an avid reader, writer and blogger











Story of the Writer 

featuring H.M. Wilson 





Welcome Hannah!!!!










Please Welcome  H.M. (Hannah) an avid reader, aspiring author, blogger, adjective lover, Big Sister, Sweater-wearer, Fangirl, Coffee drinker, Christ follower, and TEENAGER.  She has a very beautiful and impressive blog  over at Plottingertwist. Very impressive for a young person!  Here is a link to a recent post My Thoughts on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.


Hannah and I first bumped elbows on Twitter and since have become blog-buddies. She’s a very impressive teenage writer, blogger and reader! I can see the talent literally pouring out of her hears, and as an INFJ, she’s also one of the rarest personality types on the planet.



So here’s a high five for being an awesome person






A high five between two persons that celebrate a success

 (I’m the blue guy by the way)






So where are you from?

~ I am from a tiny town in Texas. (Buffalo, TX if you need a specific one.)

I’ve been to Texas several times but I’ve never heard of Buffalo, TX.  A lot of Buffaloes must roam there eh?






How did you come to love books so much?

~ I grew up in a book-loving family! My great grandmother collected books & she passed the tradition down.

That’s so sweet. I grew up in a TV-loving family,  I defected later. Books are much better. I find that family is always so instrumental in our early reading habits. I love how your grandmother collected books, what a good pattern. My grandmother helped us out a lot when we were wet behind the ears. And when our ears dried she was still tireless. Kind of like an older version of the Energizer Bunny. I miss her dearly. 




“Between the earth and the sky above, nothing can match a grandmother’s love.”





A grandmother is simply the practicality

of love at its best; 

burning forever true,

and never knows when to rest. 


~Benjamin Thomas









Even though my grandmother passed some time ago, her love never entered the grave. It fervently lives before us; bright as coming day, tugging on our souls forevermore. 





What childhood experiences had a major impact on your writing?

~ I was homeschooled, so one of my favorite bookish memories is my mother teaching me to read. Along with that, my father used to read to me before bed every night. Together we went on many adventures with Doctor Doolittle, Mr. Popper’s penguins, & Ramona with her sister Beezus. 

It’s astounding that parents can give the gift of reading to a hungry child. 









Favorite childhood books?

~ A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle & Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit were two of my favorites as a child. And even as an adult, I still continue to go back & reread my old favorites. There is something special to me about both stories!

YES we always come back to the classics! 



Who are your favorite authors today?

~ I enjoy reading the works of Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, and Jane Austen. 

Nice. Uh, mine were probably Dr. Seuss and the incredible Hulk. I suppose they’d make a nice team. Lol!



What writing project are you currently working on?

~ I am currently working on several projects, but my primary one is called Polaroids + Postcards. It is a story about a serious guitar-player & a free-spirited travel blogger who cross paths and are forced to go on a road trip across America together. (It’s been an especially fun project thus far because I am uploading each chapter on Wattpad, so my blogging friends can read it & give me advice as I write.)

That sounds like a pretty interesting story premise. Haven’t used Wattpad before but I’ve heard of it several times. 





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


~ It all started with books. There was something almost magical about the moments when my mother would sit with me curled in her lap, reading my favorite picture-book for the thousandth time. And this feeling only grew when she took me to the library for the first time. And when she taught me to finally read on my own. I felt like I wielded some kind of super-power when all the words melded together into sentences, and that’s when the burning first began. I knew that I wanted to write a story of my own! And I finally did. And it was terrible. The cringe-worthy picture book was entitled Princess Butterfly. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that I illustrated it myself! (Need I say more?)

Yet as bad as that little story of mine was, seeing my parents smile at my poor attempt at a masterpiece added fuel to the fire. I didn’t stop there, and my stories grew in depth & complexity. Now, at the age of 18, I’ve lost count of the number of stories I have penned, the notes I have scribbled, and the characters I have crafted. None can quite compare with my debut work, Princess Butterfly, but it’s safe to say that I am glad of that!


AMAZING STORY. I love it. You’ve definitely got the fire. I can almost see the smoke and embers.





What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

~ My “surface goal” is to become a best-selling fiction author. But this is just scratching the top layer of my aspirations. In my journey to become an author, I dream of sharing my deepest thoughts & feelings through the written word. I hope to inspire others the way my favorite authors have inspired me. I want to not only entertain my readers, but also help them grow by writing stories that ask hard questions & make them think for themselves. And I desire to write something that will touch people & make them look at the world with a new perspective.


Impressive! You just elicited the WOW factor.



Wow Surprised Word Astonished Surprising






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

~ Time-management has ALWAYS been a challenge for me. Sometimes pulling away from one project to work on another is hard for me, because I like to give my everything to one specific thing at a time. But along with that, I also tend to be distracted quite easily. So you can imagine how quickly that can get out of hand… Lol! (Darn you, Twitter & Pinterest!)

I completely understand this one. The quicker you get a handle on this the better off you’ll be. You’re headed straight to the bestseller’s list one day kid…Tell em’ I sent ya. 



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

~ First of all, writing isn’t just a hobby for me—it is a calling. I truly feel like it is something God has planted in me, so I honestly think it would be impossible to completely stop writing. But at the same time, the idea of becoming someone’s favorite author & them being inspired by my work makes me want to work even harder at it!

I already know you’re a hard worker. It practically jumps out of your pores. But, HAVE FUN IN THE PROCESS. Don’t let pressure, stress, or even the work, take away the joy in writing.







~The conscious mind is the editor, and the subconscious mind is the writer. And the joy of writing, when you’re writing from your subconscious, is beautiful – it’s thrilling. When you’re editing, which is your conscious mind, it’s like torture.~

Steve Martin







Author Anne Janzer in her book, The Writer’s Process Getting Your Brain in Gear, speaks of balancing and utilizing both parts of your brain in the writing process. She points out knowing when to implement or inhibit, the editor and the muse in different phases of the process. I highly recommend it to any student of the craft. 




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

~ Honestly, I think most of the time we are our own worst enemy. We allow ourselves to be discouraged, get bored, be lazy, be distracted, and it makes for a tough battle to win. So I would have to say that goes for myself as well. It’s an uphill climb! You live, you struggle, and you learn from your mistakes.

Are you sure you’re only 18? License and registration please. 









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

~ I know that for me, personally, this often happens due to my strange attention-span. I will have inspiration for stories at the oddest of times & feel the need to start working on it immediately, temporarily abandoning the unfinished project I was currently working on. (But I rarely work on ONLY one WIP at a time. I usually have several that I add to, which helps me to never let my brain completely shut down if I reach a dry spot on one story.)

But another reason I think writers do this is because of boredom. Sometimes we get discouraged after reading the same piece of writing over & over, and it just seems increasingly uninteresting, so we scrap the idea altogether. The key here is not allowing yourself to become discouraged. Remember, even the greatest authors of all time had first-drafts of their novels!


Yes. This brings to mind many thoughts. Many of us have the same experience trust me. *raises hand*  Having ideas is one thing, but being able to grasp and develop it into a compelling story, is craft. This is what I’m learning right now.  Here’s a profitable remedy for distracting story ideas:

New Story Ideas Distracting You From Your Book? Find Out What You Should Do












~The Art of happiness is finding your joy in the PROCESS rather than the end RESULT.

–Jessica de la Davies







Writing is all about the journey and how you got there, not so much about the destination. 

~Benjamin Thomas






Greetings to all my siblings in the craft! (That’s you)






Benjamin Thomas