Great Day at Southern Authors Expo #amwriting @HMCPL

I met several new authors at the Southern Author Expo at the Downtown Huntsville Library yesterday, including Annie M. Cole, a southern fiction and inspirational writer. I’m always encouraged by the other writers in the community; they are so generous with their advice, kindness, and humor about this shared obsession we have with the written word. Annie is definitely one of those people!


“I love words,” Toya Poplar said to me. She was my table neighbor, and her book, Stop Write There, is an interactive journal with prompts to help people to write. Meeting her was such a gift.


Betty Bolte, the author to my right, is a prolific romance writer in multiple genres and one of the panel speakers of the day. Having such wonderful writers around me made the hours pass quickly, and as usual, I left with a list of ideas for things to try.

Thanks to all the library patrons, fellow authors, book fans, and everyone else who came out and made the day such a success!


Writer Blocked #amwriting #writerslife #indieauthors

I’m sitting on two unpublished YA novels. You haven’t seen anything new from me since “The Future Unborn” in 2016, but I’m not blocked in the traditional sense.

I’m trying to make the switch from indie to traditional publishing.

I’ve weighed the pros and cons of this move. For me and my audience of YA readers, I feel that a traditional publisher is the best way to place my print books into the brick-and-mortar stores where teens are more likely to buy them. I also want to put my books into school libraries.

Plus, it’s pretty hard to get a major motion picture made of your book as an indie. :)

The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency signed with me in December, 2016. I wrote another book while waiting for the first one to sell. Now there are two in the queue, and I’m 20,000 words into a third. “Writer’s block” isn’t the problem.

Jennifer reassures me about the slow pace. Things pick up in the fall; the publishing business works at a different pace. I’m just used to fast in indie. My editor is fast. The cover designers I’ve worked with are fast. Write, edit, proof, assemble, and publish. I’m in control of my schedule, and I like getting things done.

So for my readers out there who might be wondering, yes I’m blocked—but not by writing. The books are here. Just waiting. They’re coming. I promise.

Please be patient.

Curiosity at #DowntownHuntsville Art Walk #amwriting #writerslife

I’m an oddball among the other vendors selling art, jewelry, and handmade crafts—the only author. People stop and ask, “Did you write these?” or “Are you local?” Others want to know about how they’re published because they are thinking about writing a book of their own. I tell them to write. Just do it. See what you can do.

For the four hours that I stood there last night, a menagerie of people and their pets paraded past my table. Dogs of every size, color, and coat came through. Somewhere in the park, face painting was happening, so children passed with colorful cheeks. Actual dialog I overheard between a mother and son:

Mother: What do you need?

Son: I need a sword.

Mother: You do not need a sword.

(The vendor beside me happens to sell them.)

I noticed one man holding a pair of rubber duckies in his hand and tried to imagine what sort of story could be behind a situation like that. Surely I could use that in a future scene in one of my books…

Curiosity works both ways. :)

From Today's Catfish Literary YA Panel Discussion #amwriting

I enjoyed the YA panel discussion at the Catfish Literary Festival today. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the moderator brought some questions that I hadn’t answered before.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I was one of those kids who loved horses. I’d have to say The Black Stallion. I had a whole series of black stallion books in paperback.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block? (What do you not like to read?)

I’m not a big fan of mystery or fantasy books.

Since we’re in a library, what kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a new book?

I research all the time using Google. People would find my search engine queries peculiar, like “what sound does a shotgun make?” I don’t do a lot of up-front research before beginning a new book but instead research all along the way.

How many hours a day do you write?

An hour and a half a day during weekdays. On weekends, it depends—sometimes more, sometimes less.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Writing conflict is challenging for me. I’m an introvert by nature, and that means that conflict is hard, even on the page. Sometimes I have to go multiple times before I can get it right.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Amber D. Tran is another writer that I’m friends with. We have lunch together every month or so and share about our writing. She’s taught me about social media and things to do with Twitter. She’s so much more extroverted than me, and she’s helped me with self-promotion in my writing.

What did you do with your first writing paycheck?

I took a photocopy of it. Then I put it into the bank.

What’s the best way to market your books?

Face-to-face events work well. I’ve had good success with the book clubs, library events, and festivals. I do not think buying ads does a lot, and I’m not sure what social media does.

What did you or your editor cut out of a book?

In Hollow Beauty, I had some sections where the character started self-harming, and my editor thought that didn’t belong in the book. I took it out. She was right.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read all my book reviews. The good ones make me feel really happy and full of joy, but the bad ones, don’t have the same effect on the negative side. It’s just feedback.


Manuscript Done

Yeah, my novel is done and off to my editor for review! I am basking in that post-writing glow. After seven months of immersion, I’m up for air again. This place is a restless one for me. I’m always writing, but I don’t want to start the next project until I’ve put the final bow on this one. I need to stay in this book-dream just a little while longer in case there are suggestions for scenes to add or major shuffles…

But a new idea is already beginning to take seed. I’m happy about that. It’s just a little one, but it will grow.

Wild Things at Reader Riot 2017 #ReaderRiot #amwriting #writerslife #Alabama @FLPLibrary

Monsters, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Curios George came out for the first ever Reader Riot this weekend, as well as tons of readers and authors.

I spent time talking with some young people who wanted to be writers and had lots of questions about that, and fellow authors shared their experiences in publishing. What a great day.

My colleague and fellow author Amber Tran carpooled to the event. Here’s Amber’s booth. She had the corner post and did an excellent job calling people into the vendor’s alley to browse for books.

Thanks to everyone at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library for hosting this great event and everyone who came out and made the day a success!

Happy National Library Week! #NationalLibraryWeek #amwriting #amreading #Huntsville @HMCPL ‏

I received this nice link from my local library about National Library Week 2017 in my email today. Libraries are wonderful. It's a great week to celebrate them.

I visited the Library of Congress in DC one year (amazing), and I walked past the New York Library, shown below. I didn't have enough time to look inside. For 3 years I worked in the mail room at my college library, and I have fond memories of the people and years. Every library in my life comes with a story--both on the shelves and in the time that I spent within its walls.

What about you? Who was your elementary school librarian? Did he or she read stories to your class? How many libraries have you visited?

Revision Spiral #amwriting #amediting #writerslife #writerproblems

Reading through my first draft and beginning the revisions, I cycle through a full range of emotional experiences. This novel is the best one I’ve written yet. No, it’s a complete disaster. Wait, it’s brilliant. Nope, I’ve just wasted five months.

Revision is my favorite part of the writing process, but having a fresh, critical eye can be difficult with that chorus running around in my brain. I’m not always sure if I’m questioning something because it’s not working, or I’m just questioning myself.

In the past few years I’ve learned to push past the doubt because I can’t trust it. It’s like the “dark night of the soul” portion of the story itself. All seems lost right before everyone is saved. Things always get much worse before they get better. That’s just how the best stories work. If my first draft seems like a glorious pile of trash, no worries. I just need to keep climbing the spiral until I reach the light.

Everything will work out in the end.

At least, it’s supposed to.