Read Like a Reader. Write Like Dr. Frankenstein.

It may seem cliché, but I have loved reading books my entire life. I still have memories of looking through books before I learned to read. I could spend hours studying each illustration from top to bottom and from left to right. Unfortunately, I also remember adding some sketches to books without illustrations because they were too boring. I was never discouraged that I couldn’t read yet and was comforted by the calm reassurance of my mother that one day I would be a reader. She took me to the library, one of my favorite places to be, throughout my childhood.

When I finally learned to read, I developed a hunger for words. I read every street sign, every bottle in the bathroom, and every book I could get my hands on. I read every book in my house including the first aid manual and the dictionary from cover to cover. In fact, the dictionary was my favorite thing to read. Even now, I love to look up words and feel nostalgic when I see a dictionary on a bookshelf. When our dog was hit by a car and I was the one to find him, I went straight to the bookstore because it comforted me to be among them. Books have always been my friends. I was the little girl who could disappear for hours, curled up with a pile of books in a quiet corner. Starting at the age of 10, when I wasn’t reading I was writing poetry. Writing helped me to navigate the dark and difficult waters of adolescence. At 12 years old, I declared that I would become an author and that dream never left.

My son was born with the same voracious hunger for words and just ended his sophomore year as an English Major. Classics were some of my favorite things to read so when I bought a modern book for him I’d insist he read a classic as well. One of my favorite stories became one of his as well: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. My son started writing for fun at the age of 12. Prior to writing, he drew his own comic books with characters he made up. The main character of my children’s book series also has a lifetime love of books and sharing them with everyone she meets. Encouraging reading is something I have loved to do for all my adulthood. I feel like reading is one of the keys to a child’s future. When I was a professional clown and had one on one time with a little one while face painting or twisting a balloon I had three questions: What grade are you in? What is your favorite subject and Do you love to read? I then told them about my lifelong love of reading and encouraged them to read for the fun of it. If they said their favorite subject was science, I would tell them that one day they could grow up to be a scientist or even teach science to other children. Some children shrugged it off or nodded in agreement. I treasured the ones whose eyes widened as they embraced possibilities they’d never thought of. Truly children are a gift and should be encouraged to dream of their futures and pursue an increase in information about things they are interested in.

However, I digress. My purpose for writing this blog is to correlate writing and reading. Something that frustrated me for years when working on a new book was getting struck with “writer’s block”. Sometimes it was because of an international event that caused strong emotions and sometimes it was because I allowed everything else to get in the way. After attending several webinars and online classes for writers, I had an epiphany. Part of the reason I was getting stuck was an unspoken need to write a story from beginning to end and in that order. The thing is, no one says you must do that. In general, you READ a book that way but a story can be built in pieces and then assembled later into a coherent story that has a beginning, middle, and end. Once I realized this I finished a story I had been stuck on for six months in one night. I was more than half way through but stuck about how to finish the story. I decided instead to cut the first part out and then finish with a completely different direction.

Huzzah! What a liberating thing it is to discover the freedom that brought! I want everyone to feel that freedom so by the fact that you’ve read these words and perhaps a little light bulb has quickly switched on for you as well, consider these words your license to write your story in pieces. Dr. Frankenstein your story! Cut it up, move it around, stand on your head and see things differently. I would proceed with caution on that last suggestion. Be free, writer! Be free!

Write Right Rite

I have received several messages this year requesting guidance on becoming a writer. As an eternal student, I am by no means an expert. I have been working on a 30-year-old dream to be a prolific writer. My first book was published via Amazon Kindle in November 2014, and my first children’s book, The Adventures of Princess Jellibean, 1st Edition, was published in November 2016.

After the closing of my first, I recently signed with a new publisher to publish an expanded 2nd Edition and the subsequent books in my series. What I will share with you here are things I’ve discovered on my journey that I think will help an aspiring writer.

First, don’t become a writer for fame or money. This is going to be a long journey, wrought with peril and adventure so it should come from a place of passion for the art of the written word. If you are writing because you have something to say or because you love researching and sharing your findings, you will do well. If you aren’t one already, become a reader. Reading words helps keeps your own word flow primed.

Now that I’ve shared my opinion, what do you want to write about? Is there a genre you love like science fiction or mystery? Are there interests you’d like to take a deep dive into? Read books in your genre. Read reviews of books in your genre. Learn what your audience wants. Research your topic until you become somewhat of an expert.

When I wrote my second book, I researched possums so that I could write an authentic character. Even though it is a children’s book, I don’t want someone to be unable to connect with that character because I didn’t take the time for authenticity. Even if your chosen topic has already been written about, don’t be afraid to tackle it yourself.

Sit down and write. Make it a habit and create a routine. Have a designated place, music, lighting that you want to revisit each time and then…write anything. The book The Artists Way says to get up early every day to write whatever comes out. Set weekly deadlines and goals. Write X number of words each day. Setting that goal is up to you.

Outline your story. It needs a beginning, middle, and an end. Brainstorm characters and situations.  Even if you use digital to write, carry a notebook with you everywhere. You never know when inspiration may strike. Keep your creative eyes open.

There are many publishing options that don’t cost a dime. Some resources are listed at the bottom of this page. This is especially true if you don’t need illustrations. If you do need illustrations, consider looking at artists on sites like Fiverr. If you want an agent, research agents in your genre on Google. Follow them on Twitter and look for their posts on tips or things they want to read. Research submission guidelines for both agents and publishers.

Learn how to write a book proposal. Take advantage of every webinar and online training for authors. Join organizations like Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) and take advantage of their website which is loaded with helpful information. Sign up for newsletters and join critique groups. Follow other authors on Twitter. Share your ideas with a trusted friend and be open to their feedback. Soak up every possible drop of information that can help you. Be an eternal student open to the big world of possibilities.

Don’t be afraid of failing. In fact, fall in love with it and celebrate it! It means you’re trying. It’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you stand back up, brush yourself off and try all over again! You can do this. Everyone has a story inside of them and yours deserves to be shared.

Sites for free self-publishing: