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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How to Grow as a Writer

This month I'd like to encourage you and talk a little about the importance of continually growing as a writer. Stephen King once said, "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write," so read as much as you can. Aside from perusing through books I use to improve my writing skills or gain ideas, growing as a writer through networking and workshops is a must. It's my motto that there is always room for improvement and we never stop learning and growing, so attending writing workshops, where you can learn about current market trends and how to improve your writing skills is one way of doing just that.

On May 4th, I attended the Oklahoma Writer's Conference. Compared to many other conferences out there, it's still one of the most affordable conferences to attend where you can network with other authors, meet best-selling authors, and learn all about the trade. If you're interested in attending next year, here's the direct link:

I was fortunate enough to meet up with some amazing friends and writers and network with some of their speakers.

I had the privilege of sharing a space with Mark Alpert, a science thrilling and best-selling New York Times author, while attending a book sigining for my latest release, "Betweeen the Wolves and the Sheep." As an indie author, it was a little initimidating to have a table next to a giant in the industry, but he was encouraging, uplifting and offered great advice about finding time to stay in the game if writing is what you want to pursue.

I also had the honor of listening to the their key-note speaker, Michale Dahl. He writes horror books for younger audiences and he had some amazing advice about letting the story flow and seeing where you end up in the end. He stated, "When writing a story, if you start with a message, you are already closing the doors to your imagination... allow yourself to explore instead of expound. Trust your imagination...move forward...and see where it goes."

I found it inspiring to get an inside look into his motivation for writing. He explained, "Fear is a doorway to empathy," and when writing scary stories, it lets children know that they are not alone, because everyone gets scared. The secret to his success is that he chooses univeral themes that most children are afraid of, like getting lost, for example, and he also gave great tips about how one shouldn't start a story. Here are a few:
Don't start a story with kids at a breakfast table (There's no action and it really doesn't hook the reader)
Being the 1st day of summer vacation ( He felt it was cliche-ish and often overdone)
Throat clearing (Bizarre, I know, but I guess some people actually open a sentene this way)

Finally, he offered some great examples about how to start a story with a great hook that draws you in and engages the reader to want to read more. One example he used was this:
"Where's Papa going with that ax?" ~Charlotte's Web

It was motivating and inspiring. I enjoyed the opportunity I had to be able to network with other people in the field and felt inspired to continue enduring the marathon most indie authors run when trying to find their place in the writing world. I've been doing this for thirteen years. My husband and I have a running joke that someday we're going to look back at all the hardships we've endured and laugh. Still...not laughing all the way to the bank, but we remain hopeful that that day will come.

In the meantime, I'm fortunate to use my skill to help businesses with their social media marketing to cover the cost of hiring editors, cover artists, and voice-over actors, so I can't really complain. Still, my ultimate dream goal would be to find an agent who can sell one of my novellas to someone like Lifetime or Sci-Fi; one can certainly hope and dream, and there's no such thing as giving up what one is passionate about, no matter how long the journey.

A famous boxer by the name of Muhammad Ali once quoted, "It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe." Such a true statement considering that grunting and enduring through the process towards a goal can be wearisome when life has a way of throwing you monkey-wrenches from all directions, but this is the type of work I can do twelve hours straight that doesn't feel like work at all. That's when you know that you have tapped into your life's purpose. If you have a passion like that, how can you let it go? The answer to that is that you simply can't and shouldn't. I encourage you to continue to find ways to grow in your skill, seek improvement, and carry on.  In the famous words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, "When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." I think I'm on my third knot, but hanging on I will, even if I have to tie a fourth knot; even if I have to super glue my hands to it when I find myself running out of strength to let go.

I hope that you have enjoyed this newsletter. I'm no longer on Facebook, but feel free to find me also on Twitter, Instagram, and/or my journey to healing blog. Also, if you know someone who would appreciate reading this post, feel free to share this with them. One final note, my short story series continues with Vile Visitors Return and is set to for release on Amazon on May 26th. You can go to the link and click subscribe to get notifications when a new story is featured on my Amazon site as well.

I wish all my aspiring writers well and much success!

Coming May 26th- Vile Visitors Returns

Miss the First Story?

No worries. You can read the first Vile Visitors on Amazon's Kindle, and if you are a Kindle unlimited subscriber, the story is free. Here's the trailer to the first part.

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